Claire Hennessy, who wrote Nothing Tastes As Good, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, also founded a book club in Dublin. Called The Grown-Ups Read YA club, it’s basically exactly what it says on the tin. I’m not based in Dublin, so sadly I can’t get to the regular meetups, but I am a member of the facebook group, and like to read the books along with them sometimes, and definitely get involved in some of the facebook discussions. This book was their June book of the month, although it took me until July to read it, and it’s a really eerily written magical realism which is unsettlingly beautiful at times.
It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.
The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.
But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?
There was a lot I really liked about this book. I love books set in Ireland, written by Irish authors, I love YA, I love magic and magical realism, and I really enjoyed the eerie, unsettling feeling of this book as a whole. The imagery in the book was beautiful, the whole story centred around a mystery and quite frankly, the best party ever, and there were little elements of Irish folklore as well that I loved.
The main character, Cara, is caught up in her own head, imagining a world of fairies and mermaids and magic, but also trying to figure out the mystery of the accident season that affects her family every year, as well as find out where Elsie, the mysterious girl from school has vanished to. The whole book basically oozed with eerie, creepy vibes, a vague, unsettling but still beautiful aura that permeated every page of the book. It felt a lot like We Were Liars, in terms of tone.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t really like We Were Liars. And I didn’t really like this, either. While it had a lot going for it in terms of atmosphere, I couldn’t get on board with the central romance of the book – not in any way shape or form. And I also worked out the big reveal (or a few of them) long before Cara herself did. Maybe we were supposed to figure it out faster than she did, but I like to be surprised with the narrator sometimes, and this book was not full of those surprises.
There were also a few instances of really strange vocabulary going on in this book which I found incredibly jarring. For a book which is set in Mayo, it’s not exactly part of the regional lexicon that a character was coming off a freeway. Nor would you refer to any sort of secondary school student as a sophomore. I don’t even know what year that’s supposed to be. Having checked the information in the start of the book, it seems that (despite being set in Ireland), The Accident Season was first published in the US, so those two examples might just have slipped past the editor when it was being adjusted for a UK and Ireland audience, but there’s nothing throws me out of the mood of a book more than a completely out-of-place word like sophomore. That’s a particular foible of mine, I have to admit.
This book had a lot going for it, but while it started off great, it just pulled itself down, for me, over the course of it, and ended up being a very mediocre read.