Review: Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar


Title: Night Beach

Author: Kirsty Eagar

Published: Penguin Australia April 2012

Synopsis: Imagine there is someone you like so much that just thinking about them leaves you desperate and reckless. You crave them in a way that’s not rational, not right, and you’re becoming somebody you don’t recognise, and certainly don’t respect, but you don’t even care.  And this person you like is unattainable. Except for one thing… He lives downstairs.  Abbie has three obsessions. Art. The ocean. And Kane.  But since Kane’s been back, he’s changed. There’s a darkness shadowing him that only Abbie can see. And it wants her in its world. Read an Extract

Status: Read on April 25, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Penguin Australia}

My Thoughts:

Raw Blue was one of my favourite novels of 2011 so I have been looking forward to the release of Kirsty Eagars third book, Night Beach. Combining the gritty emotional realism of Raw Blue and the supernatural element of Saltwater Vampires, Night Beach is a stunning novel, at its core it is a coming of age story but it is so much more than that. With breathtaking imagery, this atmospheric novel reveals what remains unseen.

In Night beach, Eager introduces seventeen year old Abigail who lives with her mother and stepfather with a view of the ocean from their home in suburban Sydney. On holiday during her final year of school, Abbie should be studying for her HSC and concentrating on completing her major work for Visual Arts but when her step cousin, Kane, returns from an overseas trip, Abbie’s world is thrown into turmoil. What begins as the story of a fairly ordinary, introspective teenage girl who dreams of becoming an artist with an unrequited crush, slides into something altogether ‘other’ as Abbie’s world shifts on its axis. She begins to see shadows – shadows that have an inexplicable malevolence. At first it seems likely that Abbie’s vivid imagination and emotional state are responsible for what she sees, Kane’s return has reignited her near obsessional desire for him. Yet there are things that are somehow ‘wrong’ that can’t explained by conventional understanding. Things like Abbie’s nightmares, the swaying of chandeliers when there is no breeze and Kane, Kane is somehow not the same.
Eagar weaves the ordinary with the supernatural with consummate skill never really confirming or denying the readers suspicions, leaving room for personal interpretation and speculation. The sense of disquiet, of something ‘other’, mounts so insidiously that I only gradually realised that Abbie was under threat and even then I was never exactly sure from whom, or what. In amongst the things that are ‘wrong’, Abbie’s life is fairly ordinary. She surfs, hangs out with friends ‘Hollywood’ and Max, babysits three year old ‘Joey’, struggles to master driving her manual car and mourns the changes in her relationships with her sister, father and mother. Abbie’s artistic leanings are an integral part of this novel, Eagar mentions several works that Abbie identifies with or refers to and I couldn’t resist looking them up online. They help to illustrate Abbie’s unique way of seeing not only light, colour and form but what is beneath what we see.
Her intense infatuation with Kane seems to be typical for a teenager. We know Kane, who is a few years older than Abbie, to be flawed with a history of drinking and drug taking, but ‘hot’ with obvious bad boy appeal. A semi pro surfer he has been filming in Indonesia but returned home early. It is as she gazes at Kane that Abbie first sees the shadow though she doesn’t recognise it for what it is. Is it a shadow that has attached itself to Kane, or is it simply Kane’s own shadow, his own darkness, that Abbie can somehow see?
I was completely engrossed in Night Beach, drowning in the atmosphere of anxiety and menace. It wasn’t uncommon for goosebumps to appear on my arms as I was reading Night Beach, actually even as I am writing this a shiver rolls down my spine as I remember the warning from Joey’s imaginary friend, Pinty, and Abbie’s fear of the storeroom door. I was almost convinced I could hear the buffering of waves against the shore in the distance. The landscape of Night Beach is pervasive, the beach is a place of warmth and beauty and light but just under the surface lurks cold currents, unseen threats and unfathomable depths. The culture of surfing plays into the novel perfectly, the joy of riding the waves tempered by the harsher reality of aggression and possessiveness.

Night Beach is a novel that got under my skin, complex, breathtaking and compelling, I can only insist you experience it for yourself. This is a story that stays with you, haunts you and despite its young adult label deserves an adult audience. Just as with Raw Blue, Night Beach has found a place amongst my favourite reads.

Available To Purchase

@Boomerang Books I @Booktopia I @Readings


@ Amazon (Kindle)

About the Author

Kirsty Eagar grew up on a central Queensland cattle property and spent her school holidays at the beach. After studying economics, she worked on trading desks in Sydney and London before changing careers, wanting a life where she could surf every day. She travelled around Australia for a couple of years, living out of a car, worked a variety of jobs and began writing fiction. Her debut novel, Raw Blue, was published by Penguin in 2009, and won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult fiction. Her second novel, Saltwater Vampires, was shortlisted for the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Kirsty lives with her husband and two daughters on Sydney’s northern beaches.

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