Bree T's Reviews > Night Beach

Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar
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Apr 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: aww2012, arc, australian, gothic, paranormal, supernatural, young-adult
Read from April 09 to 10, 2012 — I own a copy

Abbie spends her time between creating art and the surf. Passionate about both, she draws inspiration from one for the other, but now her third passion has arrived back in town. Kane is Abbie’s step-cousin and he’s returned from a surfing trip overseas to drum up interest from big sponsors. He rents a room downstairs in Abbie’s mother and her husband’s rambling house and Abbie suffers from the kind of obsession that has her following Kane, watching him, listening out for him, peeking through his things and desperately wanting him to notice her… Or to remember.

Kane is different since he came back. If Abbie looks closely enough, quickly enough, she can see it. It lurks, shadowing him, shadowing her, changing things, twisting things. And Abbie is being sucked into this dark world and she’s the only one who can see what is happening, who is looking for the explanation. Kane refuses to talk to her about it so Abbie is left to try and piece together the dark and disturbing truth herself.

Short summary because Night Beach is one of those books where you’re best left uninformed about what it’s really about and go in blind. That’s what I did – the blurb on the book is very vague and that’s clever because this book is an experience. I read Kirsty Eagar’s first novel, Raw Blue only this year and absolutely fell in love. I haven’t read her second, Saltwater Vampires which is quite dark, but I was extremely excited for the release of this book. Night Beach was not what I was expecting at all but I think that just made it all the more easy to immerse myself within it.

At first it begins a little like Raw Blue which is actually what I was expecting – girl loves to surf, address the politics of local surfing spot and introduces potential love interest. But then Night Beach starts a subtle shift into the Gothic. It’s darker, eerier and more ominous. Eagar excels at creating such multi-layered characters with incredible depth. They’re not always sympathetic – Kane in particular is a character that swings from fascinating and charismatic, the sort of character you want to know more about, to bordering on the psychotic, hurtful and cruel. He straddles a line, sometimes stepping over into anti-hero and you wonder what Abbie sees. And then the shadow recedes, he becomes himself again and you’re woven straight back in, wanting more to happen between them.

Eagar creates an atmosphere in this novel, a clever manipulation that turns the comforting and mundane into creepy and ominous. Abbie sees shadows and flickers at every turn, she’s jumpy and nervous and it makes the reader jumpy and nervous too. I was advised to read this late at night (maybe with a storm happening) when I was alone but I didn’t get a chance to and I’m sort of glad I did because I’m a huge wuss and just reading this in the day time gave me chills and some goosebumps! It’s intense and at times often difficult to navigate. To be hugely honest I am not really a fan of what another blogger I know calls “the woo woo” – the mysterious, the unexplainable, the unbelievable, the downright weird. When the book started to head in that direction, I had my doubts. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get through it truly feeling what I was supposed to, or get the experience that I was supposed to. And I think it’s a testament to Eagar’s writing and story-telling that I did. Eagar is just mysterious enough, just vague enough about what Abbie sees is happening to Kane, and Abbie is quirky enough that you can question her narrative, using her artist’s soul, her imagination. I know nothing about art but I could appreciate Abbie’s passion, the way in which she viewed the world and the way in which what she saw contributed to her projects. Her ideas were incredible, just another way in which Eagar builds a base for her characters and then fleshes them out with so many different characteristics. Abbie was more than a surfer, more than an artist, more than a girl who wanted a boy to notice her, to remember her. She was a daughter who felt abandoned, a sister who felt she didn’t quite measure up, a friend who didn’t see what was right in front of her face. Her evolution in this book is something to witness as she stands up for herself – she goes from a shaky, timid teenager with a crush, too shy to just walk up to Kane and ask him what she wants to know. But as the book moves on, Abbie evolves, the darkness and shadows somehow making her stronger within herself, making her see what she is capable of. By the end she has embraced what happened, accepted it and dealt with it which is more than Kane has been able to do. Her vow at the end was such an affirmation of how far she has come.

Night Beach is a book to take your time with and savour, to take in every word. And then when you’re finished, it’s tempting to go through and read it again, just in case there’s something there that you missed. It’s one of those books that stays with you after you’ve finished it. Another beautifully written piece from Eagar.
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