Out of the Depths
by Cathy MacPhail (Author)
Cathy MacPhail, the Scottish Jacqueline Wilson, most recent novel Out of the Depths, is set to become a series featuring Tyler Lawless, a girl who sees dead people. Not unexpectedly, this ‘gift’ leads Tyler into trouble with her teachers, her parents and her fellow students, all of whom think she is just looking for attention with her stories of moving statues and the ghost of a long dead schoolboy. Can Tyler solve the mystery of the murdered boy without losing every friend she has?
Borrowing heavily from popular culture, most noticeably Dr. Who (of which she is a confessed fan) and The Sixth Sense, this book nevertheless has it’s own voice. MacPhail’s controlled sentence construction adds to the build up of tension at crucial parts of the book and the teasingly thrilling final sentence in each short chapter makes this a real page turner.
The book is set in a modern non-denominational, co-educational school, housed in an ‘architectually preserved’ religious school, complete with chapel and statues. This is conducive to a blend of school based soap opera and gothic horror - which mix is both the books strength and weakness, increasing the enjoyment but limiting the depth. MacPhail’s descriptions of the school, while exotic to modern teenagers, will be familiar to people of a certain age. The continual mentions of religion are unusual, especially from the UK market – definitely the first time I read the words ‘lapsed Catholic’ in a children’s book!
An enjoyable thriller, well told by an experienced writer.
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