Sunday, December 5, 2010
Review: Organ Music, Margaret Mahy
Harley and David find a car with keys in its engine on infamous Forbes Street. But instead of driving it, it starts driving them--to a hidden laboratory deep in a forest. They're told there has been a security breach and they can't leave until they've been cleared. David suspects something is up. They can hear organ music, and the girl Quinta, who can evade the cameras and wander where she chooses, reminds David of the graffiti in Forbes Street: Where's Quinta?
I remember Margaret Mahy from my childhood and I am certain we had lots of her books around the house. I have the feeling they were short story collections full of ghosts, and I think I read The Haunting at some stage. They would have been bought for me as I am the ghostie lover in my family. If these are the books I am remembering, I was very fond of Mahy back then. I don't tend to read a lot of MG fiction, but the stuff I've come across recently is little more than vaguely annoying. One-dimensional characters, caricatures, shallow plot lines. Every line of dialogue ends with an exclamation! Because otherwise! Kids would get bored! Every reaction is an over reaction! It's all just so exciting! Or rather, it tries to be and miserably fails!
Organ Music is an exceedingly well written and genuinely creepy book. I was creeped out. I love situations where a character finds themselves drawn deeper and deeper into trouble, offering resistance but having it stymied at every turn. Mahy has crafted the situation perfectly. Middle Grade novels should all be like this, where no matter what age you are, the writing is evocative and compelling. I believe this about young adult novels too. I find it very sad when juvenile, second-rate writing is deemed "good enough" for children and teenagers.
Beautiful cover design too. Because I'm an Aussie and we love claiming works by New Zealanders as practically our own, huzzah local talent! Local spooky, supernatural talent. Organ Music is available now from Gecko Press.