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The Dead of Summerby Camilla Way
Synopses & Reviews
Praise for The Dead of Summer
"The Dead of Summer is like an addiction so impossible to put down, its consumed far too soon. Camilla Way weaves an inexorable web of innocent love and evil, tightening the strands until there is no room to move, no hope of escape."
-- Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
"Like Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy, Camilla Way's The Dead of Summer is a tricky, twisted peek into the secret world of children. As relentless as it is intimate, this is a truly compelling debut."—Stewart ONan, author of The Speed Queen
"The Dead of Summer is a riveting and remarkable debut novel. With a voice that is both charming and chilling, Camilla Way skillfully illuminates the tortured lives and twisted psyches of three teenage misfits in 1980s London--and delivers a literary page-turner of the highest order."--Amanda Filipacchi, author of Love Creeps
"The Dead of Summer is economical, compelling and, in the end, pays off beautifully with a twist that will both surprise and haunt you for weeks after you put the book down."--Cammie McGovern, author of Eye Contact and Art of Seeing.
"Sharply written with a haunting voice, The Dead of Summer is a powerful and gripping debut.--Colleen Curran, author of Whores on the Hill
"From the U.K. comes this promising debut novel narrated by the sole witness and survivor of a set of murders that left three children dead in an abandoned Greenwich, England, mine in 1986. Seven years later, Anita Naidu, now nearly 20, lives in quiet isolation in Bristol. She tells her tale largely in retrospect, with her opening bluster soon giving way to the vulnerability of her 13-year-old self. Having recently lost her mother and moved with her family to a council house in South London back then, Anita's only friends are the overweight and learning-disabled Denis and her volatile neighbor Kyle. The young Anita identifies with Kyle's social invisibility and, more disturbingly, his violence. The friends spend their adolescent summer wandering around Greenwich, running from bullies and seeking hidden caves. As the novel progresses toward its horrific surprise conclusion, Anita gradually reveals more and more disturbing information both about Kyle — and his mysteriously disappeared little sister — and about herself. Anita's story is intriguing and her portrait of the desperate Kyle touching, but the way Anita's damaged psychology plays out seems more a result of narrative necessity than of a realized character. Still, readers will react to the bold material and stark storytelling." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Since the success of Lionel Shriver's 'We Need to Talk About Kevin,' the demand for novels about the dark side of adolescence seems to have increased tenfold. It's unclear whether this says more about the psychological state of our young people or about the apparently insatiable appetite of the reading public for tales of abused and abusive teens. 'Tell me, does your pulse quicken... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) when you see those headlines? You know the type: Murder Spree of Schoolgirl Loner; Boy, 13, Rapes Classmate; Child, 10, Stabs Pensioner.' Thus speaks Anita, narrator of Camilla Way's first novel, 'The Dead of Summer,' with a knowing wink to her readership, as if to suggest that she is only too aware of the forces that compel us, as readers and human beings, toward the darkest potential of our baser nature. Anita herself is haunted by memories of a series of violent events that occurred in London over the summer of 1986, leaving three adolescents dead and her own life in pieces. Presented in the quasi-confessional form of a series of psychiatric interviews, the story begins with an unlikely friendship among three very different young people: Anita, a tomboyish girl of Bengali descent; Denis, who is fat, trusting and mentally challenged; and Kyle, a troubled young man very much in the mold of Shriver's Kevin, whose apathetic gaze and urge to hurt ducks make him a prime candidate for the role of teen psychopath. The tale has all the right ingredients: an unreliable narrator, a vanished infant, an abandoned mine, a smattering of child abuse and an unhealthy friendship among three young misfits that finally ends in violence. Although this material is by no means uncharted territory, the pace is compelling, and a clever double twist makes for a satisfying climax. Way writes clearly and evocatively, with a kind of tough lyricism. Her dialogue manages to suggest teens' speech without actually re-creating their painful inarticulateness. Though perhaps somewhat predictable, her characters are winning and often frighteningly plausible. Way draws Anita especially well, beautifully laying out her juvenile thought patterns: her fascination with the tortured, unappealing Kyle; her antagonism toward her family; her obsessive eye for trivial detail; and her subdued response to violence. Adolescence is a cruel time, filled with doubts and uncertainties, and the author depicts these with cinematic clarity. The adult world rarely impinges upon these lost and troubled juveniles, who exist in a universe of paranoid intensity, irrational behavior, raging hormones and wild passions. Their world, like that of 'Lord of the Flies,' revolves around a series of private rules and rituals. However, this novel lacks both the emotional impact and the moral ambivalence of William Golding's classic. Its briefness (200 pages, barely longer than a novella) leaves the reader feeling a bit shortchanged. Though fast-paced, the plot seems to sacrifice psychological depth for the sake of a speedy conclusion. Minor characters tend to fall into cliched categories — the kindly grandfather, the teasing older brother, the neurotic mother, the teenage bully. Like the tabloid headlines from which it draws its inspiration, 'The Dead of Summer' evokes horror with enviable ease but fails to evoke much pity. The jack-in-the-box ending may be startling, but it offers little insight. The result is a beautifully written piece of journalistic fiction — sensationalist, thrilling, graphic and compulsive — that lacks the necessary element of compassion. Ironically, it is this absence of compassion, this delight in car-crash voyeurism, that the author satirizes at the very beginning of the book. We are all equally guilty, she tells us; we revel in stories of monsters and freaks, and in doing so, we make freaks of ourselves, staring so long into the abyss that finally we catch it staring back. She makes an excellent point, which leaves this reader very curious as to what Way might achieve if, next time, she were to turn her attention away from the gutter and begin to contemplate the stars." Reviewed by Joanne Harris, author of 'Chocolat' and the upcoming sequel, 'The Girl With No Shadow', Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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At thirteen, Anita Naidu was the sole witness to Londons notorious cave murders of 1986, which left three children dead.Told seven years later to the police psychologist who interviewed her at the time of the killings, Anitas story exposes the savagery of the schoolyard one chilling detail at a time until the truth reveals itself with startling ferocity. Set against the bustling, tourist-packed streets of historic Greenwich, this audacious debut examines sinister events that happen, quite literally, right below the surface. An irresistibly disturbing thriller for fans of A.M.Homes and Mary Gaitskill.
"Admit how your pulse quickens when you see those headlines: murder spree of schoolgirl loner; boy, 13, rapes classmate; child, 10, stabs pensioner." So says narrator Anita Naidu, and she should know. At thirteen, Anita was the sole witness to Londons notorious cave murders of 1986, which left three children dead. Told seven years later to the police psychologist who interviewed her at the time of the killings, Anitas story reveals the savagery of the schoolyard one chilling detail at a time until the truth of what actually happened reveals itself with startling ferocity. Set against the bustling, tourist-packed streets of historic Greenwich, this novel examines sinister events that happen, quite literally, right below the surface.An audacious debut, The Dead of Summer is written in spare, evocative prose with remarkable psychological acuity and the daring to examine the dark, intensely fragile point between childhood and adolescence, and the morbid impulses of those mutable years.
About the Author
CAMILLA WAY lives in London and works as a journalist.
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