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Saturday, May 20, 2017

'Ballad for a Mad Girl' by Vikki Wakefield

Book received from Publisher 

From the BLURB:

Everyone knows seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk-taker, and she’s not afraid of anything—except losing. As part of the long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe. That night she experiences something she can’t explain.

The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions—but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf.

As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined—all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price.

Everything about her is changing—her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness?

‘Ballad for a Mad Girl’ is the new young adult book from Australia author Vikki Wakefield.

Vikki is one of my favourite authors writing today. Hands down. I have loved all of her books, and even though Ballad marks the biggest departure from her contemporary backlist – it’s another one of hers that I’ll cherish and count among my new modern, Aussie YA favourites.

Where as in the past Vikki has written very gritty, realist teen narratives – Ballad is a bit of a horror/speculative-fiction change-up, in which protagonist Grace Foley finds her body inhabited by the ghost of a teenage girl who died tragically, decades ago. Grace finds her ghostly companion after a death-defying school challenge goes horribly wrong, and in the midst of her deep-seated grief over the death of her own mother a year ago.

Now Grace’s dog is wary of her and biting mad, she of – zero artistic talent – can suddenly draw haunting portraits, and there’s a girl always standing in the corner of her room at night.

Even though there are horror and gothic threads in this book, long-time fans of Vikki’s should know that they’re still getting a gritty novel from this beloved author who is celebrated for her gut-punching YA – because she knows that speculative-fiction without relatable backbone means nothing. Vikki takes the haunting and uses it as an extension of Grace’s grief and denial over her mother’s death, as well as her uneasiness over growing up and apart from her core group of friends. There were times when I felt like maybe there were one-two-many metaphoric ideas happening – between the death of Grace’s mum, and her friendship dramas, as well as Grace’s own mental health questions – but by the end all of these narratives were bought together rather neatly for a satisfying, if haunting conclusion.

Vikki Wakefield is one of the most creative and daring authors writing for young adults today. Ballad for a Mad Girl is an Aussie YA Gothic tale that smartly uses the supernatural to explore the depths of grief and growing up, and the pain to be found in both. This is a caring and keening novel, creepy but tender and wholly marvellous.


1 comment:

  1. I loved Vikki Wakefield's debut novel and while I still have not picked up any of her other books in between I have seen Ballad pop up EVERYWHERE. It's clear to me that I will need to read this very soon. I haven't read any of your book reviews in a while actually. I forgot how much I love your eloquence and witty written expression.

    PS. My review of Begin, End, Begin is up on my blog now! I'm kind of rusty on writing book reviews so I'm not 100% happy with it, I feel like I should have been more diplomatic but eh. I admire you so much for all your efforts with the Aussie book community. :)

    Cass @ Words on Paper


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