Review Blog

Oct 09 2009

The uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones

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Candlewick Press, 2009. ISBN 9780763639846
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. Who can better summarise a novel than the author himself? Here is what award winning author, Tim Wynne-Jones says in the Teenreads blog:
For Jackson Page, who's just finished his music degree, the little cabin is a place to compose in. It's quiet; there's no one around to bother him. That's what he thinks, anyway. He's got a studio there, his instruments and computers. For Mimi Shapiro, running away from a disastrous first year at NYU and a relationship that went way bad, the snye in the wilds of Eastern Ontario is a perfect hideaway. That's what she thinks. Her father owns the place though he hasn't been there in many years. A lot has happened since her father was last around.
There's a third person drawn to the house like a magnet. Cramer Lee. He has problems all his own. He's taken to spying on Jay. And then along comes Mimi and everything changes. The thing is, all three of them share more in common than any one of them knows.

I was captivated by the characters right from the minute I met them. Mimi is flamboyant, drives a Mini Cooper that she calls Ms Cooper and is fleeing from an affair gone wrong with her University lecturer. Jay is engrossed in his music and Cramer made me want to mother him. He is a young man who has had to look after his suicidal mother for most of his life. He holds down two jobs to keep the household going, and has given up any thoughts of further education. Mixed in with the mystery are complex family relationships. Mimi's artist father Marc is selfish and never thinks of the consequences of walking out on people. There are intriguing and messy connections between all the characters in the story which are revealed bit by bit by the author's superb timing.
An exciting thriller, The uninvited is taut and suspenseful. Wynne-Jones keeps the reader guessing right to the end about the uninvited visitor who is stalking Jay and Mimi - is it the university lecturer, or the neighbour or is Cramer doing all the strange things that are happening? What sort of danger are Jay and Mimi in? Will they survive? And it all takes place on a syne, a beautiful little stream, surrounded by willows and accessible only by a broken bridge.
This is a novel that I found exceptionally difficult to put down. It is a literary, nail biting mystery with the added themes of family dysfunction and mental illness. I will certainly be seeking out more books by Tim Wynne-Jones.
Pat Pledger

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