Lots of YA writers are trying their hand at supernatural fiction these days. You should see the bookshelves here at The Inquirer: Practically every other book has some wannabe-spooky, Twilight-looking image on its cover.
But not every author gets it right. You need something more convincing than a too-pale boyfriend to craft a good horror story – and Irish fantasy author Celine Kiernan has totally nailed it with Into the Grey, a complex, harrowing story of history, hauntings, and long-ago losses.
The Finnertys, an ordinary, boisterous family of twin brothers Dom and Pat, baby sister Dee, and their parents and grandma, set off from Dublin to their annual summer getaway by the beach. Kiernan has an evocative turn of phrase that feels distinctly Irish: The family’s holiday drive is “vivid with fresh grass, diesel fumes, and the crusty-bright smell of the sea.”
Upon arrival, Pat thinks the cozy house seems shabby, dark, and stale; he knows something is wrong. Kiernan soon shows us what it is; A goblin of kind is haunting Dom, and Pat is the only one who knows it. We share his mounting horror as he watches his brother go where the ghoul leads him, helpless to do anything about it.
The whole book is powerful, but there’s one scene depicting the family in the kitchen – Pat trying to keep from becoming hysterical as things with Dom grow ever weirder – that is as unsettling as one of Poe’s ghastlier moments.
If you’re in the mood for a scare this autumn, Kiernan’s beautiful novel comes highly recommended. Just read it in the daylight maybe, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.