Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Taken Away


Taken Away by Celine Kiernan (Allen & Unwin)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-1-74237-772-0
Reviewed by Thalia Kalkipsakis
  
Not since childhood have I felt the need to hide a book under my bed, face down and beneath a pillow, in case the terrors lurking within somehow made their way out as I slept...

That is, until I read Celine Kiernan’s gripping ghost tale, Taken Away.

A small, pale hand grabbed the edge of Dom’s bunk. Little fingers curled around the mattress. I could see the indents of the fabric where they gripped tight. There was a pause, as thought it was frightened to look, and then a small, pale, dark-eyed face cleared the edge.

Taken Away tells the story of twin Irish boys, Dom and Pat, whose family has been displaced after their home burnt down. The effect of the fire is not only displacement; somehow, it also means that the ghost is able to see the twins. And when he does, he thinks he’s ‘found a home’.

Through Pat’s eyes we feel his horror and sense of helplessness as his twin, his partner in life, is possessed. Dom disappears, becomes a ‘whistling void’, and in his place is something that no longer belongs in this world. The situation is made all the more compelling because Pat is the only one who realises that something is wrong.

As with other truly terrifying ghosts, this one is not all that he seems. To save his brother, Pat realises that he must also help the ghost. And so, the twin’s plight becomes entwined with a tragic World War I mystery.

Recommended for readers from 13 to 16 years, Taken Away is much more than just a haunting. The mystery and suspense keep the pages turning, but it is the relationships that take this story to a higher level, not the least of which is the connection between twins and the resulting anguish when events cause their separation.

Thalia’s latest book is called Head Spinners: six stories to twist your brain (www.thaliakalkipsakis.com). 

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