cover image The Exchange

The Exchange

Graham Joyce, . . Viking, $16.99 (241pp) ISBN 978-0-670-06207-2

Joyce (TWOC ) defies genre expectations with a tale that begins as horror but then turns into something considerably more warmhearted. Fourteen-year-old Caz is a decent kid, but she and her best mate, Lucy, are into doing what they call the Creepy Thing, breaking into the homes of the elderly, creeping close to their sleeping bodies and then running off shrieking into the night. Everything goes wrong, however, when Caz plays her prank on the wrong old lady and finds herself under an apparent curse, in possession of a strange, glowing tattoo and able to read minds. Seemingly on the verge of falling apart, her relationships with Lucy, her mom and her boyfriend in jeopardy, Caz finds the strength to reject the darker possibilities inherent in her newfound talent and uses it instead to help others, thus nullifying the curse. Joyce, a master of sophisticated terror in his adult fiction, never lets this tale get too scary. Instead, he concentrates on developing believable, lower-middle-class characters and a well-delineated British setting, and then drives to an unexpectedly sunny conclusion. Ages 12–up. (June)