25 May 2009

Book of the Week (15): “Creature of the Night” by Kate Thompson

Creature of the Night is one of those great books that you start reading because you think it is going to be about one thing – and you finish reading because it’s actually about something else.

Don’t be fooled by the blurb: yes, there’s a spooky cottage where a young girl was supposedly murdered; yes, the last tenant of the cottage mysteriously disappeared and yes, something that is definitely not a dog is using the dog flap to get into the house at night. Yet despite the real scariness that Thompson invokes, this is not a classic ghost / fairy story, and Robbie is a city boy: hoodie, delinquent and gang-member. It is his story that really grips, his unknowing and very gradual transformation as he is forced to go and live in the country, away from his Dublin-based friends. By the end of the book you are willing him to make the right decision and stay there.

Creature of the Night
is a fantastic read and thoroughly deserves its place on this year’s Carnegie shortlist. This is a gritty and realistic novel, with bad language and drug references – hence unsuitable for younger readers.

Recommended by Laura Hutchings

• Kate Thompson is a fascinating writer; if you liked the slightly other-worldly aspect of this book, try her The New Policeman. If you liked the grittiness, try The Beguilers.
• The 2009 Carnegie list is great. Try Kevin Brooks’s Black Rabbit Summer – another book about how experiences change you. It’s a tougher read, but well worth it. Or try another Irish writer on list – Siobhan Dowd with Bog Child.
• Kevin Brooks’s Road of the Dead is another book that blends the mystical and the gritty.

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