I’ve said it many times in recent years (most often at Great Stories): some of the best fiction around is turning up on young adult shelves. And some of the most interesting stories are coming from Australian writers.
Case in point: This is Shyness by Leanne Hall.
This is Shyness is the story of a teenage girl (to be known as Wild Girl) who wants to forget the troubles of her life. She crosses over into the literally perpetually dark suburb of Shyness and meets Wolfboy, a guy with his own issues – not the least being his penchant for howling. He agrees to guide her through the streets of endless night, but there are strange things in Shyness and what they think will be a welcome diversion soon turns into something more menacing.
This is a very cool book. Strong left-of-centre characters, original plot and world building, and a great mix of darkenss, humour and sharp dialogue.
I loved it’s Australian flavour (just enough to feel familiar). The setting is also just off-kilter enough to be dystopian, but not so much so that it feels alien.
At the novel’s heart is an engaging, off-beat romance, but there are also well-handled themes of alienation, grief, self-identity and self discovery that make this an above average novel (and not just for young adults).
There are enough loose ends to set up future stories in Shyness, but also enough closure for it to be OK if Leanne Hall moves on to other stories. Can’t wait to see what she does next.