With new genre novels coming out every week it can be very easy to miss something, especially if it’s a debut novel produced by a small and independent publisher. The Electric is a case in point; a clever and heart-warming tale of the supernatural which may have passed you by, simply because you’ve never heard of the publisher or the author.
The plot follows a teenager called Sam Crowhurst, a young man on that delicate cusp between boyhood and being a grown-up. Thanks to a recent bereavement, his mind and soul are in a state of chaos, and it’s only when he comes across a mysterious old cinema called ‘The Electric’ that he begins to face his own personal demons. He drags his two closest friends into the discovery, and between them they learn a lot about themselves and each other. The Electric is a tale of young love, loss, coming-of-age and, of course, ghosts. The cinema is haunted by movie-loving spooks, who happen to find most horror movies hilarious.
The Electric also happens to be a love letter to the cinema. A haunted movie theatre that shows features starring the ghosts of old movie stars is a perfect excuse to dive head-long into movie history and explore what makes the silver screen so special. The main protagonists are also movie fans, and this seems perfectly natural throughout the story. The natural flow of the story is one of its key stylistic features; the author builds gently on the readers expectations, carefully building his world and characters throughout so nothing feels forced (and making the ending difficult to predict).
The Electric is an impressive first novel. Andrew David Barker’s style is whimsical and nostalgic, and the work reads like the haziest recollections of a childhood long since gone. The pace is gentle and relaxed; there’s very little foreshadowing here and not a great deal of depth. Instead we get a strong ghost story with just enough surprises to keep the reader engaged throughout. The characters are firmly envisioned and it’s easy to understand the dynamics between the three children.
INFO: THE ELECTRIC / AUTHOR: ANDREW DAVID BARKER / PUBLISHER: BOO BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW