The Year of the Ladybird by Graham Joyce

(9.0/10) Strong visuals, compulsive mystery and high drama.

Book of the Year 2013 (see all)

“It is the summer of 1976, the hottest since records began and a young man leaves behind his student days and learns how to grow up. A first job in a holiday camp beckons. But with political and racial tensions simmering under the cloudless summer skies there is not much fun to be had.

And soon there is a terrible price to be paid for his new found freedom and independence. A price that will come back to haunt him, even in the bright sunlight of summer.”

This is assured storytelling from author Graham Joyce. With perfect placing and setting, this is an authentic look at the attitudes and the people of Britain, circa 1976.

All of the characters are convincing, with their personal agendas, flaws and demons. Through the central character of David, the microscope is put up to everyone and everything.

The seemingly innocent setting of the holiday camp hides something sinister and unsettling... or is it just David’s imagination? Joyce expertly builds the tension and intrigue, as he carefully removes each layer.

I enjoyed this not just because of its writing; it is also a true time capsule of a forgotten yet surprisingly recent era of our history. There is a real sense of impending doom approaching: not just the perceived direction the country is taking, but also the events affecting David at the camp.

I found the novel gripping, disturbing and surprising. There is also a lot of humour and excellent dialogue, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

With its strong visuals, compulsive mystery and high drama I heartily recommend this. The Year of the Ladybird is much more than a ghost story.

The Year of the Ladybird by Graham Joyce
Published 2013 by Gollancz
ISBN: 9780575115316

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