Thursday, 11 August 2011
The Considine Curse, Gareth P, Jones
The Considine cousins are certainly a strange bunch, each with their own characteristics. Lily and Amelia are strange but seem friendly enough, but Oberon is threatening, and eight-year-old Elspeth is one of the creepiest children I've come across in fiction, oozing malevolence and speaking only in sinister rhyme, hinting at a terrible fate in store for Mariel. I guessed at the family's secret early on, but this did not spoil the story for me, although one piece of foreshadowing came across as too heavy-handed and unnecessary. The story is a great mix of a page-turning family mystery and a gothic undercurrent that gets darker and more dangerous as the story goes along.
I was quite shocked at the level of bloodthirstiness for a book aimed at pre-teens, but what I found more disturbing was the ending. I think it was supposed to be a happy ending, but it was rather bittersweet and a somewhat morally dubious. Although as an adult I don't mind stories with "untidy" conclusions, if I had read this book when I was ten or eleven, I would have been concerned about the decisions Mariel took. Her story may have ended pretty well, but I would have been - and was, a bit - troubled about the wider-reaching consequences for the family and community. Perhaps I think too much. Still, The Considine Curse is an enjoyable, intriguing and creepy read.