Three years ago, Alice’s identical twin sister took a gun to school and shot seven people, including her boyfriend. Since then, the small outback town where they live hasn’t been the same. Nobody has overcome their grief — least of all Alice, who wears the killer’s face and has to cope with the anger of the others in the town. Then one day, after her return from time in therapy, Alice sees a ghostly figure on the road that she thinks must be her sister. Going after it, she finds she has swapped bodies and is now in a land of dreams — and nightmares. Everybody’s nightmares…
In The Skin Of A Monster (Allen & Unwin) could easily have been another YA contemporary tale of overcoming a truly horrible event, and it would have been good in its own right. But the author has gone a step further. She has taken us to where the dream versions of people from this world are wandering around, trying to survive among the monsters from people’s dreams, including many versions of the killer who had taken away their children and friends, where a girl from this world needs to overcome her own inner monsters in a way not possible in the real world.
This is a debut novel from a promising new writer and a fascinating premise. It makes a very good piece of horror fiction as well as a psychological thriller. For what could be more terrifying than we can imagine ourselves? ◊
Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly and, most recently, the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog The Great Raven can be found at http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.