Every October the lives of Cara Morris and her family are threatened by a mysterious accident season. They walk on eggshells, afraid even the most minor cuts and bruises could turn into a fatal tragedy. Begrudgingly resigned to a facade of normalcy behind a cloak of layered clothing and padded edges, Cara has long since stopped searching for answers to the inexplicable. That is until one day, out of the blue, Cara discovers childhood friend Elsie present in each of her family’s photos. With a renewed interest in unraveling the secrets Cara enlists the help of her tarot card reading best friend Bea to end her family’s mounting obsession and fear once and for all. Not everything is as it seems though, and as the truth comes out more and more pressing questions demand to be answered. Pushing herself and those she loves most to the brink of madness, will Cara and company survive the accident season unscathed? In a book being laureled as a mix between We Were Liars and a Nova Ren Suma work my expectation were high, was it a worthy comparison though?
In the words of texting lingo, WTH just happened? I’m not trying to be coy, but expressing my genuine confusion at the psychedelic inspired, seemingly LSD induced, dreamscape that is The Accident Season. That statement could be interpreted a lot of different ways though, so let me say bluntly; I am not a fan of this book. No qualms about it Moira Fowley-Doyle is certainly a talented author, her writing is dramatic and flared with gothic appeal throughout, which I certainly appreciate. She is also incredibly graphic and visually oriented in her presentation of things, which lends for very vivid imagery in a reader’s mind. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to account for in the category of things that did not mesh well for this reader chick. The first major issue? The plotting by which the story unfolds. The book quite literally follows no apparent plot for the first 90% of the story, led by a trail of breadcrumbs evident only to the author (as in meaningless hocus pocus is eluded to throughout only to be abandoned in the next chapter and subsequently forgotten in the end result). Then, in a matter of pages, random weirdness sprouts into so much random action that I had no hope of ever surmising into a cohesive storyline. The other thing about a book where nothing is happening, the reader comes to expect that there must be something by way of a twist. So, when the aforementioned finally announces itself, the effect isn’t all that dramatic. While I’m sure real life problems disguised as fantastical happenings may be compelling to some, for me it was just irritating and dull.
My second undoing, going hand in hand with the first, is the characters. Cara, our narrator, has to be the most paper thin character ever written in first person narration. For crying out loud, I spent three hundred pages in her head just waiting for her to enlighten me on her observations or opinions, but instead I closed the cover knowing no more about what made her tick as in the beginning. The one defining trait she has? Her über gross (and even more crazily, mutual) infatuation with her step brother Sam. Not surprising considering the dysfunction that runs deep in the Morris clan. On a side note, let me vent my frustration at Melanie, the “mother” in the story. I can’t go into too much detail at the events surrounding her character development for fear of spoilers, but she’s more contrite than Alice Brady. Supposedly she’s this free spirited artist who lives in the shadow of the accident season, but to me she seemed more akin to a manically depressed alcoholic totally negligent to her children’s needs (insert silent scream). Actually, the Morris family as a whole is just a genetically unlikable lot living in hedonistically reckless oblivion. Bea is weird for no apparent reason, Sam has semi-incestuous but full on creepy feelings, and Elsie just confused me to no end. The only character who had any rhyme or reason to her actions was Alice who, though I didn’t like, was understandable in her thought process and reasoning. In conclusion, I hope for sterility in this gene pool’s future.
The Accident Season, to read or not to read? If you’re a fan of Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls or any other magical realism then yes, I suppose this is as good a book as any in the genre to read. If though, you like to read with your feet planted firmly on the ground, bounded by logic and reason, then run quickly.
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