No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010/85: The Amethyst Child -- Sarah Singleton

"I shall tell you what Amethyst children are like ... and you tell me if this matches up. First of all, they feel out of place. They see the world in a different way to ordinary people and they are so acutely aware of the problems we face they want to be part of changing it. They are creative people who have difficulty fitting in with anyone else and they have different aspirations. They don't like conforming ... they have psychic and spiritual powers ..." (p.34-5)

Amber is a teenage girl with Goth tendencies and a long, dull summer ahead of her. Then she meets Dowdie, an unconventional girl from a commune who challenges her nice middle-class assumptions and beliefs, says that Amber's different from the others (instant win!) and introduces her to charismatic James Renault, leader of the commune. James confirms that Amber is an Amethyst Child, 'part of a new wave of consciousness ... chosen to incarnate in these difficult times because they will lead us into a new era' (p. 54).

Amber is hooked: yet her natural caution (she bemoans her lack of bravery and aversion to risks) prevents her from becoming fully immersed in the world that Dowdie, James and the rest of the community are inviting her to share. She's also distracted by another new friend, Johnny, who has a DeviantArt account and creates artwork of Amber that reveals another side of her she didn't expect.

Despite the packaging, this isn't a dark fantasy: it's a gritty real-world story about trust, friendship and betrayal, with elements that could be read as fantastic or simply as delusional. The main narrative is framed and interrupted by an account of a police interview, which keeps the reader guessing as to what's gone wrong.

Singleton's writing is lovely and lyrical, and she sketches Amber deftly, avoiding stereotype whilst making it clear that she isn't quite as unique as she'd like to be. Johnny is fascinating and will make an excellent romantic hero when he grows up a bit. And Dowdie, perhaps the most rounded and individual character, is rough-edged and not always likeable. All three characters experience significant change: what's considerably rarer is that their parents, families et cetera are also changed by the events of the novel.

No comments:

Post a Comment