Monday, 4 May 2015

'Orkney Twilight' by Clare Carson (****)

*WARNING! CONTAINS SPOILERS!*

Happy Bank Holiday, readers! Today I have a book review for you, of Clare Carson's wonderful Orkney Twilight! I finished this yesterday and could not wait to write a review; I can honestly say I haven't read a book like this ever, and it was such a fresh read for me. As I said in my last post, I normally don't review adult books here on Delightful Book Reviews, however I loved it so much and was very interested in the backstory to this book, so I wanted to feature it! I was also lucky enough to be able to interview Clare Carson all about Orkney Twilight and the thrilling history behind the novel, which you can find here.
I was kindly sent Orkney Twilight by FmCM Associates in exchange for an honest review! Intrigued? If so, here's the blurb...

Jim says he's an undercover policeman.

His daughter Sam thinks he's a liar.

On holiday in Orkney, beneath an endless midsummer sky, Sam spies on Jim as he runs secretive errands across the island. What did he take from the old watchtower on the edge of a cliff? Why is he so interested in Norse mythology? And why does Sam have the eerie feeling that she too is being watched? When Sam finally discovers the truth, it will draw her into a dangerous world of darkness and deception...
An original and haunting thriller about fathers, daughters and the ghosts of the past.

Orkney Twilight is the kind of book that pulls you in from the start, and doesn't let you go until the very last page. Carson's language is clear and honest, slightly cynical and coldly empty where feeling is concerned; the build up of emotion not really setting in until the middle of the novel. You can really tell that the protagonist is a teenager, even though the story is told through a chilling and somewhat ambiguous third person narrative. Sam as a character is not immediately likeable, but I gradually warmed towards her as I realised how complex the tale that she set out to tell was. Tom was a welcome escape from the seriousness of Sam and the drunkenness and harsh temper of Jim; I liked him immediately and considered him a clever device to give some insight into the otherwise complex and mysterious story.

As for the plot itself, I found myself not only being swept away by the mystery and the excitement of the thriller twists, but also learning a lot as Carson delved into the rich history of the 1970s. Carson always kept you guessing, never giving you enough time to think, never leaving you space in your brain to make your own conclusions. You are not a passive reader of Orkney Twilight, but an active participant of the story. You are not watching Sam discover the truth about Jim and his ominous history, but helping her along the way. 

My favourite part of Orkney Twilight was most definitely the character of Jim. I loved him from the first introduction of him and I loved him until his demise. But even then, the astonishing presence of Jim didn't fade away. Carson was able to keep the spirit of Jim alive, even when the physical character of him no longer existed. He was a delicious character, the type most readers can only dream about, where you continually ask yourself whether it is actually possible to ever understand him.

I had to include this extract of the book, as it brought me very close to tears. Here it is:

She felt a tear welling, forced it back and then smiled as she remembered Jim. And she thought then that what she really missed was the double-edged reassurance of his presence, the sense of danger letting you know you were alive, the lack of certainty, the doubts about what was real, what was cover, the feeling that he was more reliable, more trustworthy than the people who played it straight. Because in her heart she knew that truth was little more than fool's gold and there were no solid facts in this world, only stories and cover-ups, and if you scraped the surface all you would find were more strange tales and sleights of hand and anyone who thought differently was living in a land of make-believe.

I think that sums up pretty well Orkney Twilight, and why I loved it so much. I would highly recommend that if you're up for an utterly thrilling read, that you check this book out!

Check out Clare Carson here: http://headofzeus.com/books/Orkney%20Twilight


Buy Orkney Twilight here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orkney-Twilight-Clare-Carson-x/dp/1784080942