Publication Date: 5th September 2019
When I first heard the synopsis of The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason I was a little apprehensive about the fact that the two main central characters are teenage girls. I don’t get on well at all with novels written from a teenage female perspective. I have been saying for ages that I’ll address this in a blog post so I really must get round to it!
However, when I heard that this book had a supernatural element in a remote farmhouse I knew that I could just get over my fears and throw myself into a book that sounded right up my street. I am SO GLAD that I did!
The novel starts back in the long hot summer of 1976, when the Corvino family have moved into Iron Sike Farm. They have quit their lives in the city in the hopes of a more simple life in the country.
The family is made up of mother Cathy, Father Joe and 5 children Dante, Bianca, Lucia, Florian and Antonella. Cathy is a little bohemian and wants to embrace the country life despite feeling somewhat harassed as a mother. Joe is an artist who has gone to work away ‘teaching’, or at least this is what the children have been told.
The two older children Dante and Bianca (known as Bee) are resentful of the fact that they have been torn away from their old lives and friendships etc and Lucia (known as Loo) is at that in-between tricky age, not quite a child and not quite a teenager.
During the hot and humid summer of 1976 strange things begin to happen in the farmhouse. Loud knocking which seems to be emanating from the walls, showers of marbles that seemingly come from nowhere, furniture moving of its own accord, strange feelings and an almost electric atmosphere.
When exhausted Cathy feels like she can take no more and local police can’t seem to assist her, she accepts the offer of help from members of a paranormal society who are conducting research into paranormal activity. They are two men, Michael and Simon. Simon is planning on writing a book and is intent on finding out just what is happening at Iron Sike Farm.
With the help of local newspaper photographer Isobelle, the team set up camp at the farmhouse to conduct experiments and record their findings in the hope of uncovering what could be causing these strange and frightening events.
Simon and Michael are convinced that the activity is centering on the two young girls and it is their teenage energy that is in some way involved. Simon himself becomes a focus for both Loo and Bee in different ways.
Jumping forward to the present day, a now adult Loo (Lucy as She’s now known) is struggling with her mother’s health. Cathy is now a resident in a care home and is showing signs of dementia. Cathy has been seeing things which are put down to her progressing disease, however Cathy isn’t convinced and when a group of paranormal investigators show a keen interest in Iron Sike Farm and want to interview Cathy, she is keen to sit down with them. Lucy however is very reluctant and doesn’t want her mother to be upset by thoughts of the past. A past which she herself is desperately trying to forget. But when Cathy is becoming more unsettled, Lucy relents and joins the group up at Iron Sike where the past has trouble staying buried.
I am a huge Most Haunted fan and the paranormal investigation side of this story really appealed to me and drew me in. It also gave me vibes of The Enfield Haunting which is a real life event from the 1970’s where poltergeist activity centered around a teenage girl. The way the story unfolds is very suspenseful and atmospheric. I do love a dual timeline narrative and the alternating time periods kept the story driving along at a pace. I usually prefer one or other of the time periods in a dual timeline but with this book I found myself equally immersed in both.
The supernatural events were not over played and were just the right side of ‘odd’ to be believable. I always find that this is a huge hook for me in stories of this nature. Once the happenings become too far fetched I lose interest, but with The Wayward Girls there is a creeping sense of unease which makes the hairs on the back of your neck rise. What I also enjoyed was the break from the norm in terms of season. A typical ghost story is usually set in the Autumn/Winter, but to have this particular story set in that infamous long hot summer of 1976 added a new dimension which I absolutely loved.
The atmosphere felt oppressive. You could almost feel the humidity and the cloying stickiness, very evocative writing which crackled and fizzed with a powerful energy.
Each of the characters were fascinating on their own but as a collective they created some very interesting relationships and bonds that were extremely compelling.
I really enjoyed Amanda Mason’s writing style and I just know that she will be an author I look out for in the future.
The ending of this book took a turn which I wasn’t fully expecting but I felt satisfied with its conclusion. This is a perfect read for Halloween to give you a little shiver up your spine.
Thank you as always to the publisher for my review copy.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx