Oh, my blog was having its hiatus when the last one of these came out. The one where I bought half a dozen copies, gave them to all of my friends for Christmas and went, "Look, look! IT'S US!"
So: Did you go to a single sex school? Did you fucking hate it? Or, did you love it, but find yourself the 'red headed stepchild' all the same? Are you still mates with some of the weirdos you met there?
Okay. You need to read Drearcliff Grange.
How to describe this? Superpowers and eldritch abominations at St Trinians? Rip-roaring adventures, jolly hockeysticks, defeating facism, and overcooked swede? These books are nuts and it's fucking marvellous. Newman is the King of Pastiche and he owns this totally.
I need to calm down.
The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School is the second in the Drearcliff series, and expands both the world and the themes that Newman developed in the first novel. It suffers a little from being a transitional piece between the self-contained first book, and the wider series - but it is still an immensely satisfying read. Moreover, Newman addresses that aspect of it thematically, taking Amy, Frecks, Kali, and Emma from the plucky girlhood and simple moralities of The Mysteries... to a adolescence, and a reappraisal of what it is to be a hero.
Certainties are challenged, characters change, and we explore the awkward ground between the broken and the malevolent, balance law agaisnt lawlessness, explore the dangers of privilege, the worth of trust, and the harm that can be done by the simplest of actions. At the heart of the novel is Amy, whose role as the benevolent Kentish Glory is reconsidered as she wonders if she might not do better as the more terrible Death's Head Hawkmoth.
Of course, its all terribly referential, both to adjacent literary worlds and Newman's other works, but that's all part of the fun. If that isn't your sort of thing then... honestly, you might want to find another book review blog.
More seriously, Newman's great strength as a writer is that he manages to drop every name under the sun without ever detracting from the story he is telling at that moment, and this book carries off that trick admirably. An absolute joy.
|I loved it so much, I did cosplay.|