The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason
The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason is a ghost story. A hippie-like family, the Corvino’s move into the rambling farmhouse at Iron Sike Farm in the 1970s. Mum, Cathy and dad, Joe and the five kids, Dante, Bianca, Lucia, Florian and the baby, Antonella. Not long after they move in they start to notice strange, unexplained activity in their home. After one particularly frightening incident Cathy takes action and calls the local copper, who attends the incident with Isobel, the photographer for the local newspaper. This sets off a chain of events that ends with the family being visited by a team of paranormal investigators from the big smoke, Professor Michael, assistant, Simon and medium, Olivia. Hovering in the midst of things is Isobel, who stays on because, being a woman and a photographer, she is not allowed to pursue the story on her own.
Fast forward to the present and we see another team trying to get to the bottom of the strange activity at the farmhouse. The novel is written in a split time frame, ‘Now’ and ‘Then’. We are also being told the story from the perspective of Bianca (Bee) and Lucia (Loo). Are these the most reliable narrators? You will have to read on and come to your own conclusions.
One of the main reasons why I enjoyed this book is the atmosphere. Mason did a brilliant job of describing the tension in the air, the sticky stillness of summer, the strange remoteness of a new and foreign environment, the weight of the building’s history. I loved the 70’s vibe of the story. I loved the tension of not knowing when the next haunting would occur, the possibility of ghosts. I found Wayward Girls to be a very readable novel, a great effort for a debut novel. I am looking forward to reading more novels by this author.
However, it is not all beer and skittles. There were aspects of this novel that I did not enjoy. There were many times where I felt like a paranormal investigator myself. Waiting on the side lines for something to happen. I got the feeling that something was going to happen, should be happening, but unfortunately, all was not revealed. It felt like we were being led up the garden path at times. Which means that the main part of the story actually happens in the last part of the book (if you can hang around that long). This also means that it was easy to miss clues, in fact some of the events that transpired at the end still have me scratching my head a little.
Despite the negative points, I still felt that this was an enjoyable, atmospheric read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a book to while away a rainy weekend. Mason may not be on a par with Stephen King or James Herbert, but she is still an author to look out for in the future.