I've never reviewed a novel before where I actually know the author, so it's lovely to be able to review Maroon, the first novel by Adrian Wright.

I initially found Maroon a little hard to get into, but it's a book that's well worth perservering with, as it soon picks up, and turns into an enchanting read. Set in a bleak, faded seaside town somewhere between Fleetwood and Blackpool, the novel follows the lives of a group of disparate characters, whose lives rather like the town seem to have been put on hold.

There are three narrative strands - the main storyline dealing with the inter-connecting lives of the protagonists, sections of a hilarious and clumsy (deliberately so) bad novel written by one of the characters, and the three strange children.

All three sections have real strengths - the main storyline appears to deal largely with what's on the surface, the day to day life of the characters, their interactions with each other, but as the novel progresses this is gradually prised open, some surprising truths are revealed, there is great joy and great sadness.

The "bad" novel provides a certain amount of comic relief, as well as a deeper insight into Marcia's (the bad novelist) past.

The most striking sections for me were the sections involving the children. When I started to read the first section, I found it difficult, they are strangely unchildlike children, and the unchildishness of them really jarred, and then I suddenly got it...they're not children, they may be the ghosts of children, or they may be the ghosts of adults, who've returned to a ghostly childhood in the place where they were happy. And suddenly it all made sense - occasionally very funny, often touching, and extraordinarily perceptive casting a real light on the events of the novel; these sections are especially well written. They reminded me very much of Hilary Mantel's ghost voices in Beyond Black, but much gentler, much more human, and these unchildlike children have a real innocence about them.

I really enjoyed this - it would make a great bookclub read with lots to discuss and argue about. Fascinating read - now when are you going to write the next, Adrian??


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