Fire Colour One
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This issue’s cover illustration is from One by Sarah Crossan. Thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for their help with this September cover.
Jenny Valentine does not disappoint. From the moment she arrived on the scene with Finding Violet Park, her books have been original, absorbing and beautifully written. Her latest novel, Fire Colour One, continues the tradition.
Sixteen-year-old Iris has been brought unwillingly to meet her father Ernest, a rich artist and collector, who is dying. Iris has never met him and she certainly doesn’t want to meet him now. This is not because she is passionately supportive of her mother, Hannah. Far from it. Hannah is selfish, self-centred and obsessed with money, as is her boyfriend. But while Iris is determined to hate Ernest, things are not always as they seem.
Cleverly written from Iris’s point of view, the reader is immediately drawn to her spiky, individual voice. The characters – the monstrous Hannah, the failed actor Lowell, absent Thurston and, of course, Ernest come alive through her. As is often the case in Valentine’s work, absence and the effect of that absence is at the centre, in particular the absent father. However, absence can create myths which are often deceptive. Here we also find another common theme in her novels – deception, the beautiful con. Like a maze, the characters (and the readers) must find their way through apparent truths to the real centre; and even this may turn out to be a trick. The plot, on the face of it a modern family story, is also a mystery with a real twist at the end; a twist that shocks the characters and the reader. And it is perfect.
Funny, moving, gripping, this is a novel to recommend to adventurous readers who want to be excited and entertained.