This story is part fantasy, part ghost story, part crime, part legal procedure, part relationships, part love....in essence an amazing mixture that cuts across various genres to create a work of spell bounding beauty. At its heart is the struggle of one young lady, Jess Moulson heroin addict, and her attempt to find answers following a terrible incident that has led to her being incarcerated in the woman's correctional facility known as Fellside deep in the Yorkshire countryside.
Jess and her partner in drug taking, John Street, live the life of addicts, injecting when they can and stealing to feed that addiction....."turning household objects into cash, and then into smack. Junkie alchemy." A fire occurs which results in the death of a child Alex Beech suspicion immediately falls on Jess Moulson who now seems destined for a life without hope and a future with no love. In Fellside Jess is visited by the ghost of the dead child (or is she?) who appears to have a message to deliver and a story to tell. M R Carey's style of prose is sublime and his descriptions of life within a prison environment really bring the horror to life..."The prison's main buildings were tall and graceful, each painted in a different colour of the rainbow. Knowing what these blocks of concrete and glass really represented, Jess felt a weird sense of dislocation."...."She saw what they saw on the inside of their closed eyelids, except that each of them only saw their own dreams"......Jess has the ability to leave her body and travel into the netherworld with Alex, a place of dreams and darkness, a place to discover and resolve..."She felt an immediate and dizzying sense of relief. Nobody could pursue her here and bring her back. Nobody would even realize she was gone. It was like the scene you saw in old movies sometimes where someone left a pillow or a wadded coat stuffed down under their blankets so it looked like they were in bed asleep while they slipped away unsuspected for some crazy adventure."
Paul Levine, a young solicitor, is certain there has been a miscarriage of justice and is determined to return to the courts, with what he hopes is new evidence, and fight for the freedom of his client......he is also just a little bit in love with her. I thought the relationship between Levine and a physically and emotionally scarred Jess sprung to life in the hands of the author. When her past lover John Street is forced to give evidence the scene is set for some amazing revelations and charged emotions, that will bring a tear to all but the most hardened of readers!.
All her life had been a struggle; mother Paula and her useless partner Barry, a world addicted to heroin and finally the harsh and brutal regime of Fellside. Not often does a story affect or move me in such a way with a conclusion difficult to read but so right in the overall context of this tour de force! I will certainly be reading Carey's bestseller "The Girl with all the Gifts" as it is such a pleasure to be in the company of a writer so in control of his craft and his ability to create and weave a magical story. Highly Recommended!