One of the unexpected bonuses (bonii?) of being a writer is the increasing number of books on my shelves that are written by people I actually know. It's satisfying, and very strange, to see the names of authors, or have books lying around, and know that if I really wanted to, I could call them up and discuss the plot.
Maybe I should start doing that. 4 a.m. phone calls where I shout angry questions about character development would, no doubt, make me very popular among colleagues.
Anyway - with that in mind, I want to make more of an effort to review and spread the word about new books by folk I like. I reviewed M. P. Kozlowsky's The Dyerville Tales not too long ago (and it's actually published, now. Go, buy it. You won't regret it). Today, I'm talking about Kat Ellis' Blackfin Sky.
First, a bit about the book:
When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened.
Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it.
If I didn't know Kat, I probably wouldn't have read this book. It's not the sort of thing I would have gone for. I'm not a huge YA guy. I'm not a huge mystery guy
I'm also an idiot for overlooking books like this. If Blackfin Sky's anything to go by, I have a lot of catching up to do. It's a fantastic read - gripping from the first page (where Silas, a disdainful haunted weather vane - yes, you read that right - catches sight of a dead girl who's not dead) to the last (which I'm not going to spoil for you). I finished the book yesterday and, I have to admit, took a longer lunch than I'm technically allowed. I was too wrapped up in the climax - and it's a good one, guys. There are so many different threads to this story, and so many questions, but Kat manages to bring them all together at the end like some sort of mad puppeteer. It left me wanting more, but not feeling frustrated. That has to be the mark of a good book, right? I want sequels and prequels. I want to know more about Silas, and Bo, and what's up with Jared, and I want to know now.
Maybe I will make that 4 a.m. call...
Two things especially surprised me about this book. Firstly, I started caring a lot about certain characters. Whether it was Kat's writing (never flowery, always well paced) or the sheer inventiveness of the story, I don't know, but one scene in particular (involving an open grave and a mob of boys who are keen to see it refilled) had me balling my fists and imagining, there and then, the terrible vengeance I would enact upon those who did wrong. I got a bit worked up, I'll admit, and had to take a break. That's a good story. And then something happened later that made me feel bad for thinking those things. I only have so many emotions a day, Kat. You can't do things like that.
Secondly, Blackfin Sky is funny as hell. The banter between the characters, and Sky's description of her mother especially, are bang on. There's sarcasm, jokes, and awkward teenage moments we can all relate to. The fact it's happening alongside danger and confusion only makes it better. Yes, there's romance too, but it's natural and never forced. Sean seems like good guy. I'd let him date my sister, if he wanted.
You can probably tell I quite liked this book.
Kat's running a release day giveaway over on her site at the moment. You should go enter. If you don't win, you should buy this book. It's a great debut - and it's coming out in the U.S. in September, too.
Congratulations, Kat! Now hurry up and write your next book.