Black (Fleur Ferris, Random House)
Is Ebony Marshall cursed? Three of her closest friends have died in separate accidents, and some people in her small Victorian country town are convinced she is bad luck. Ebony finds hope in her budding romance with the newly arrived Aiden, who isn’t swayed by rumours or superstition. When Aiden collapses and ends up in a coma on their formal night, Ebony cannot ignore the evil that seems to be haunting her. Black is an emotional thriller for readers who like mystery and hard-hitting realism, delving into themes of grief, guilt and religious fanaticism. Though the first-person perspective sometimes feels limited and repetitious, Ferris, a former police officer and paramedic, does create enthralling high-stakes action. There is also a compelling romantic storyline to counterbalance the darker aspects of the narrative. While this book does not feel as contemporary or topical as Ferris’ debut novel Risk, which served as a cautionary tale about social media and online safety, it has a unique premise and gripping plot to satisfy readers aged 13 years and up.
Suzanne Garcia is a bookseller at Mary Martin Bookshop Melbourne