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The Danger Game

by Kalinda Ashton

This family certainly is unhappy in its own way: the father, laid off, is now a drinker, whose presence in the house is like ‘a low cloud, a heaviness in the air like a change of weather’; the mother, whose love ‘is drying up’; the nine-year-old twins, Jeremy, sensitive and clever, bullied at school and Louise, in love with danger; and Alice, old enough to be aware of the ‘rolling logic of hunger and doubt’. Their singular misery reaches its nadir one night in 1991 when the house burns down with Jeremy inside it and their mother leaves for ever.

The story is told in multiple narratives beginning with Alice, nearly twenty years later. She is disentangling herself from the latest in a series of doomed relationships when she gets a call from Louise saying that she thinks she has seen their mother. This acts as the catalyst for the sisters’ quest for the truth about that terrible night, a search for their mother and a re-evaluation of their lives since.

Kalinda Ashton is another excellent young Antipodean novelist, skilful at telling a story and capable of drawing bruised characters with painful fidelity.

Clare Chandler

Published by Tindal Street Press
256pp

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