Amy Oelkers, events and marketing manager for Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minn., recommends The Accident Season (Penguin/Dawson, Aug.) a debut novel from Irish author Moïra Fowley-Doyle, pitched as a cross between We Were Liars and How I Live Now.
“Accidents happen. Our bones shatter, our skin splits, our hearts break. We burn, we drown, we stay alive.”
Cara’s splintered family can’t explain the accidents that begin every October, ranging from minor scrapes and burns to severe trauma. In their modern-day Irish town, 17-year-old Cara, her 18-year-old sister Alice, her ex-stepbrother Sam, and her mother board up the windows, remove the knives from the kitchen, pad all the corners, wear protective layers, and eat cold food. But no matter how they prepare, from October 1 through Halloween, the accidents happen. This year, Cara’s best friend Bea, a tarot card reader, says this season will be one of the worst. And when it’s one of the worst, people die – just like Cara’s dad did nine years earlier. Amidst the unexplained dangers, Cara is also consumed with her taboo feelings for Sam, Alice’s increasingly unstable behavior, and the growing mystery of her missing friend Elsie, who no one seems to remember. As the accidents escalate and the calendar creeps toward October 31, Cara uncovers family secrets and tragic pasts that, together, may explain the ghostly origin of the accident season.
Months after reading Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s stunning debut, I am still blown away by this gorgeously written tale. Though The Accident Season is steeped in foggy mystery and hints of magic, it also speaks to loss, abandonment, and trauma. The ability Fowley-Doyle has to blur the lines of realism and fantasy is the heart of this book’s genius.
Though “accidents” remain the focus of this book, nothing Fowley-Doyle does is accidental. Even the setting of rural Ireland is perfect, with its history of ancient myths and superstitions. The writing is superb – sophisticated and nuanced but accessible, making it an easy sell to teens and adults alike. Cara and her co-stars are all intricately drawn, and when the mystery of the accident season is uncovered, it’s free of all conventional twists. But my favorite part may be the addition of a delicate, complicated romance, which solidified The Accident Season as one of the best books I’ve read in years!
Wholly different, literary, and lyrical, The Accident Season lies at the intersection of the real and the magical, the tragic and the miraculous, and the bone-chilling and the tender. It’s an exquisite story – the kind to win awards, top bestseller lists, and become the obsession of book lovers everywhere.