When blogger friend and author Craig Boyack put out on his blog that he was looking for ARC readers for his new book, Will o’ the Wisp, I jumped at the chance. I have read several of his books now, Panama, Arson and The Cock of the South, and enjoyed them all immensely. I was intrigued by some of the hints he had given on his blog during his writing journey, not least, how the hell was this hairy man of a certain age, who had nurtured a sourdough starter named Tituba for thirty odd years, going to get inside the head of a teenage girl?
Will o’ the Wisp is a paranormal YA novel set in mid seventies rural America and centres on a fifteen year old girl, Patty, and her slightly eccentric and dysfunctional family. I immediately sided with Patty; not only is she strong, and funny and clever, but she has to wear leg braces, which are the bane of her life. I identified with this, because my daughter wears them too.
The braces lead to exclusion and bullying in school and social life, and understandably, Patty freezes everyone out, allowing only two trusted confidantes across the barrier. On top of her emerging awareness as an adult, she shares a particularly complex relationship with her mother, which is hard to understand, or condone at times, but which adds an extra dimension of reality to the story. It is no wonder Patty seeks escapism in the stars, space and science-fiction.
However, a chance encounter with a phenomenon known as the Will o’ the Wisp leads to a frightening discovery about the fate of her own family, something only she can change.
Patty’s challenges with regard to her leg braces, her relationship with her mother, the highs and lows of her friendships and teenage life in general wind their cunning sub plots deliciously through the main thrust of the story.
In my view, this is Boyack’s best yet, his piece de resistance! All his characters are strong and well defined, but Craig has excelled in stepping into Patty’s shoes; he has produced a most convincing teen, likeable one minute, and annoying the next, a self-reliant, independent and free-thinking child of the seventies, an era which he has expertly and admirably reproduced in this story, and which is certain to bring back many memories for many readers.
Although this story is classified as YA, I recommend it to anyone who is still young at heart (or who can at least still remember how being young felt).
You can buy Will o’ the Wisp on Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk. To find out more about Craig, please drop by his excellent and entertaining blog. And finally, to learn about about the enigmatic Tituba, please go here… she has a whole section of Craig’s blog dedicated to her.