This week, Evie Woolmore reviews a vampire YA novel by a young British indie author.
Runaway Girl by Elaine White (at Amazon sites including Amazon UK)
I’d be the first person to admit that I don’t read much vampire or gothic fiction; my last dip into the genre was Ann Radcliffe’s classic late eighteenth century gothic novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho almost twenty years ago, and I haven’t even seen the box set of Buffy. Nonetheless, maybe being new to this kind of fiction allows me to see it with fresh eyes, and appreciate this book as a novel in its own right, a proper story rather than seeking originality in the genre.
There’s certainly a lot of freshness about Ms White’s book, and it has a fast-paced opening with plenty of characters making an early appearance. Certainly it takes a certain flair and energy to keep several inter-connected storylines moving along, and the opening premise of a search for a figure of great significance is always going to get things off to a swift start. The reader is quickly drawn in, not merely by the compelling experiences of the characters we meet but by the comfortably engaging worlds that Ms White paints for us.
What is obvious, even to the relative vampire novice that I am, is that the fracturing of Amelia’s soul is a clever idea both in story terms and in reaching out beyond the vampire genre to readers with an interest in magical realism and spirituality. Magic aside, it’s an interesting way to explore the tensions in all our personalities and there are certainly enough tensions in this book to keep the reader thoroughly engaged.
It says as much about my reading background as it does this novel that at times I felt there was just a bit too much going on, but that is the style of fantasy fiction born of imaginative and complex worlds and if it didn’t suit me as a reader then that is, as I say, as much a comment on me. Probably if I’d had more experience of this fiction, I would have got everything straight in my head, because I would have gone into reading it with more refined expectations of what I wanted to read in this sort of novel.
Certainly, Elaine White is an imaginative writer who has crafted a very readable book, and it’s clear that without limit to that imagination, she has much more to offer her readers.