Can you have gritty realism and fairies at the same time? Probably, as this is what Kate Thompson has done in her new book Creature of the Night. It’s certainly different and it’s much darker than Kate’s other novels.
From the fiddle playing farmers of her recent books, this is unemployment, young unmarried mothers, juvenile delinquents; plonked down in the Irish countryside. There’s a disappeared Swede (with a Danish name…), a fairy with a fondness for Battenberg cake, an old rumour of a murdered child and a marvellously forgiving and down-to-earth local family.
There’s a lot of hope in this story, but it doesn’t materialise quite in the fairy story way that you’d like it to. For every step forward, Bobby and his family take several steps backwards, into their Dublin world of debts, drugs, car theft and violence. Irish fictional crime seems to be big these days, and it’s interesting to see it move into children’s books.
I liked this book, but considering how much I usually love epilogues, this one would have been better off without one, if only because it messes with the time scale of things. And I’d have liked my own imagination to go to work on the last couple of paragraphs.