In this homage to the institute of the fading British holiday centers, Graham Joyce tells an addictive tale. David, a university student, spends his 1976 summer — a hot, sticky, and ladybug-infested summer — working at the rundown Skegness resort in order to escape home. Something has brought him here, although he's not sure what, and a sense of unease begins to settle on him. Increasingly, odd things start to occur; there's a man in an electric blue suit (but David can't make out his face), a small boy (but what is wrong with his eyes?), and a fortune-telling machine (but the fortune is unreadable); they seemingly appear everywhere. David can't sleep, but when he does, his dreams are haunted by terrifying versions of the man, the boy, and the machine. Unsettled, David also becomes entangled with other staff members at the resort, all of whom seem unsavory. Or are they actually dangerous? This slow-boil tale is a creepy, startling read; Graham Joyce is a master of mood, and he is in full control here as he slowly dribbles out tiny bombs of exquisite tension. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Critically acclaimed author Graham Joyce returns with a sexy, suspenseful, and slightly supernatural novel set 1976 England during the hottest summer in living memory, in a seaside resort where the past still haunts the present.
David, a college student, takes a summer job at a run-down family resort in a dying English resort town. This is against the wishes of his family... because it was at this resort where David's biological father disappeared fifteen years earlier. But something undeniable has called David there.
A deeper otherworldliness lies beneath the surface of what we see. The characters have a suspicious edge to them.... David is haunted by eerie visions of a mysterious man carrying a rope, walking hand-in-hand with a small child... and the resort is under siege by a plague of ladybugs. Something different is happening in this town.
When David gets embroiled in a fiercely torrid love triangle, the stakes turn more and more menacing. And through it all, David feels as though he is getting closer to the secrets of his own past.
This is a darkly magic and sexy book that has a strong suspense line running through it. It's destined to continue to pull in a wider circle of readers for the exceptionally talented Graham Joyce.
"At the start of the latest novel from Joyce (Some Kind of Fairy Tale), a coming-of-age story set in the summer of 1976, college student David Barwise arrives in Skegness, a gritty English seaside holiday resort, looking for a job. Although his decision is prompted partly by a desire to avoid working for his stepfather, David also wants to revisit the beach where, when he was three years old, he witnessed his father die of a heart attack. He has long suspected that his family has never told him the full story. After landing a job at the resort, David immerses himself in the hardscrabble world of carnies, fortune-tellers, and worn-out comedians. His kindness and humility enable him to make friends quickly, including with, to everyone's surprise, the volatile, anti-immigrant, English nationalist Colin. But when David proves unable to refuse the advances of Colin's wife, Terri, the resulting tension is palpable. Precisely because Joyce is a master of dialogue and character, the artificial plot complications provided by the mystery of David's unresolved past feel unnecessary, but, otherwise, his sweltering summer escapades make for a terrific and absorbing read. Agent: Doug Stewart and Madeleine Clark, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Beautiful, available women; ugly racist shenanigans; haunting apparitions. They all come with a college student's summer job in this marvelously juicy entertainment from the British fantasist [Graham Joyce]....Joyce folds [the] supernatural element gracefully into a realistic coming-of-age work that is also an evocation of a vanishing subculture....There's so much to enjoy here, from the fake stage magic of a woman sawn in half to the real magic of a gifted professional at work."
"Joyce expertly captures a certain time and place, when family resorts were fading out and political extremism was on the rise, overlaying his snapshot with a subtle hint of the supernatural."
"Really scary...erotic and darkly supernatural."
About the Author
Graham Joyce, a winner of the O. Henry Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award, lives in Leicester, England, with his family. His books include Some Kind of Fairy Tale, The Silent Land, Smoking Poppy, Indigo (a New York Times Notable Book of 2000), The Tooth Fairy, and Requiem, among others.