Published in Sept 2010, New Town Soul is Dermot Bolger's first cross over novel for young adults, but hopefully also for readers of all ages
New Town Soul is taut, mysterious and gripping to the last word. Dermot Bolger gets under the skin of the teenage experience and explores the dark side of the teenage psyche. A beautifully crafted thriller'
Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series
'A terrific read, unsettling at times; filled with suspense, the intensity of teen relationships and soul music - at last teenagers can experience one of Ireland's best writers'
John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
"Imagine what it must feel like to be a doll within a doll, to lose your own identity and spend your life in darkness."
When Joey changes school Shane becomes his new best friend, with a personality for every occasion and a strange sense of recklessness. Joey longs to get close to Geraldine, but she is scared to get involved with him while Shane is around. Because the Shane whom Joey encounters has little in common with the Shane whom Geraldine once knew, back when they explored the streets of Blackrock together, and befriended an old man who had returned home to die, and to let a dark secret die with him.
Is Geraldine right to suspect that Shane is weaving a net of evil around them? Who is this old man and what secret awaits Joey in a derelict house in Blackrock?
New Town Soul is a taut supernatural thriller for young adults set in a very real world - it is about the freedom of being young and the enslavement of being immortal.
New Town Soul is published by Little Island, the teenage imprint of New Island. To order a copy from the publishers please click here
To inquire about translation rights to this book please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
To inquire about other rights please contact the author via this website.
Some early press reviews of New Town Soul
The Irish Times - Saturday, August 28, 2010
TEENAGE FICTION: ANNA CAREY reviews
New Town Soul
By Dermot Bolger
Little Island, 247pp, ?8.99
DERMOT BOLGER'S first book for young adults is many things. It's a gripping thriller set in the south Dublin suburb of Blackrock. It's an unsettling supernatural horror story. It's a tenderly evocative look at teenage friendship and romance. It's a reminder to be careful what you wish for. And it's the story of Joey, a shy teenager whose ambitious musician father died in a car crash when Joey was a baby. Joey dreams of following in his father's footsteps, but after a school talent show he's bullied so badly that his mother takes him out of the school.
On his first day at his new school Joey meets a fellow new boy, the charismatic Shane. Shane is an independently wealthy orphan who's just moved back to Ireland after living with an aunt in England for a few years. He's charming and friendly, and everyone in the class, including Joey, falls under his spell - apart from one girl, Geraldine. She and Shane were friends when he first moved to Blackrock from Sallynoggin, two summers ago, but now she wants nothing to do with him.
There's been something not quite right about Shane ever since that summer, when he and Geraldine met a mysterious old man called Thomas, who lives alone in his derelict former family home. When Thomas was a boy his doctor told him about changelings - not the traditional wicked-fairy babies who replace stolen human children but supernatural forces that take over a person's body, bringing the souls of all their past victims with them. Is Shane now one of these changelings?
As the book progresses the narrative switches seamlessly between Joey's burgeoning friendship with Shane, Shane's first summer in Blackrock and Thomas's youth in the 1930s. The story is perfectly paced; as he moves back and forth in time Bolger feeds us just enough information to make us aware of what's really going on with Shane while withholding enough of the truth to keep us eager to find out how the story will end.
The novel also manages to be genuinely creepy, which is not easy to pull off. Plenty of writers can evoke cheap thrills, but only a few can inspire the unsettling cold-water-down-the-spine feeling engendered by several scenes in this book, notably one in which Thomas visits the cellar with Joseph, the mute servant, who reveals the dark secret lying beneath the house.
New Town Soul also examines the idea of immortality, the different ways in which it can be achieved and whether it's a desirable state at all. The changeling's victims may get to live forever, but they're all trapped with the other lost souls. And their immortality is always granted along with a wish - but one that never comes true in the way they expect. Shane dreams of becoming rich, so his family's money worries will be over. But his fortune comes at an appalling price.
Joey dreams of achieving immortality through his music - when he is asked to join his schoolmates' covers band he refuses, because "nobody ever became immortal by sounding like somebody else". He gradually discovers that people can also live on through their children and that the immortality granted by musical success isn't as important as "the miracle of a normal life".
By turns chilling and tender, and always compulsively readable, New Town Soul is an excellent novel, and Bolger's distinctive voice is a welcome addition to the world of Irish children's fiction.
Supernatural teen thrills
New Town Soul
Dermot Bolger (Little Island, ?8.99)
Saturday September 04 2010
Dermot Bolger's first novel for older teenagers, New Town Soul, has an interesting genesis. It was funded by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council as part of its 'Place and Identity' arts programme and a condition of the funding was that the novel had to be set in the area.
So this novel is firmly rooted in Blackrock, past and present, and the village itself plays a critical role in the narrative. The novel moves confidently backwards and forwards in time -- from the opening scene in 1932, where a young boy, Thomas, is told about changelings and the goings on at the Hell Fire Club by his family GP, to 1993 and, finally, to contemporary Blackrock. Throughout, it maintains the reader's interest. The shifting narration is deftly handled and the reader is slowly drip-fed information from the three main, and very distinct voices, heightening the suspense. Joey is a nervous, music-loving teenager who lost his father -- a musician obsessed with being immortal 'like Kurt Cobain' -- when he was an infant. When he moves to a new school to escape bullying, he encounters Shane, a mouthy, cocksure orphan with a story-book past.
Everyone in the school, including Joey, instantly falls under Shane's spell, except for one class mate, Geraldine; because Shane and Geraldine have met before -- an event neither of them will ever forget. Bolger carefully and cleverly unravels the truth about Shane's history, taking the reader on a compelling, moving and unsettling journey into the past and its ghosts. Soaked in atmosphere, it is a genuinely unnerving and spine-tingling read. New Town Soul is the best supernatural teen novel since Kate Thompson's Creature Of The Night and is recommended for both adult and older teen readers.