Donohue deftly evokes a simmering summer in a down-at-heel resort, and the eerie sense of a time out of joint. Natasha struggles with repressing her real self and the conviction that “no one really wanted the real me, it was too disturbing”. Are this awkward adolescent’s heated emotions fuelling the unnerving events in the town? There’s no Carrie-style bloodbath here, but Donohue persuasively taps into a sense of loneliness, oppressed lives and stifled dreams.
Donohue’s writing is crisp and frequently elegant; there are some beautifully vivid images in the book, such as the description of Natasha as a “diluted” version of her lovely mother, and the author has a gift for a well-crafted chapter-closing line. Less successful is the novel’s stilted and unconvincing dialogue, which robs some scenes of potential emotional heft.
And yet the novel’s moving ending feels earned and real; a reminder that sometimes teenage summers really do cast a long shadow.