cover image The Refuge

The Refuge

Chaz Brenchley / Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (367p) ISBN

Enduring fear and trauma, a group of memorable teenagers fight for survival in this harrowing portrayal of runaways who take shelter at the Refuge, a secret hideaway in London. Tia has fled an arranged marriage in Pakistan; Davey, the ``troubles'' of Belfast; pregnant Mandy, her brutal parents and handsome big brother, Kez, who is a psychopathic killer. They try to be tough, but their fortitude is exceeded by that of Mark, who is running the refuge in the absence of its director. A former mental patient, Mark is forced to deal with mounting problems while concealing his increasing instability. When he learns that a new arrival is a reporter in disguise, he is sure that he has failed horribly, but threat of revelation is trivial in comparison to what lies ahead. Though its details are bleak, the narrative is deeply grained with humor, compassion and hope. But Brenchley ( The Samaritan ) gives no quarter in this compelling novel, portraying his characters and their milieu with unsparing honesty. (Aug.)