Following on from Book 1 (The Hostile), where 12-year-old Serena meets powerful entity Tile X, the story continues as the family and their dead relatives decide to take a holiday to Ireland. Needless to say, staying in a remote village in a grotty house with Keith’s eccentric father, is not Serena’s idea of fun, but she soon learns the old man may not be the easy-going idler he appears. A series of shocking discoveries lead Serena to some equally shocking conclusions, which could shatter the lives of her family. Thankfully, help is at hand in the shape of handsome art-lover Jimmy, who, if she plays her cards right, could be well placed to help her solve the gruesome mystery…
I hadn’t read the first book in this series, and while I think it would be helpful in understanding the background to the characters and their strange lives, it’s certainly not essential. Joy Mutter has taken a rather bizarre idea and turned it into a rather bizarre book. However, she also tells a good story, creates believable and well-rounded (mostly) characters, and has a worrying knack of describing some pretty frightful murders. (Although, as most of them are committed by a bathroom tile, maybe they aren’t murders at all).
With some books, you get an idea where things are going and where they’re likely to end. Not this one. Every chapter was a surprise with new characters and situations and a bunch of wonderfully inventive deaths. Now, I’ve heard rumours about this book being a ‘horror’. Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. It kind of depends on your definition of the genre. There’s a fair bit of frayed flesh and several large portions of blood and guts, so if you’re prone to nightmares, you might want to give it a miss. However, it’s also very funny which, for me, nicely offsets the gore.
I thoroughly enjoyed Holiday for the Hostile – it’s a clever and witty book that’ll no doubt generate mixed opinions, not least in terms of its genre. It’ll be interesting to see what other readers think of it, but I reckon Ms Mutter has carved out a new niche for herself. And from where I’m standing, she’s way out in front.