Quarry by Ally Kennen

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Quarry by Ally Kennen

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Typical leftfield story from Kennen - a creepy and tense thriller set in a kitchen sink, realistic setting, with some laugh out loud comedic punctuations. It's a winning formula and this is a super book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Marion Lloyd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1407111078

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Scrappy's life is going absolutely nowhere. His mother has left his father. His sister is saving like mad for the deposit on a flat so that she can move out too. His grandfather is descending into senility. His school is about to be demolished. His best friend Silva gets all the girls and he's worried about the school villain, Judge, picking on him. His father, paranoid about a visit from tax inspectors, slaves over the scrapyard's books all night and so his temper is unpredictable. Very unpredictable.

Things could definitely be better.

And then Scrappy receives an anonymous dare via text, and his life suddenly gets a lot more interesting. As his homelife continues to deteriorate, the dares continue to escalate. What began as a prank - and an irresistible way to earn a bit of spare cash - turns into something altogether more worrying...

Quarry is a typically leftfield story from Ally Kennen. She writes thrillers, yes, but not quite as we know them. Her settings are of the kitchen sink variety and she observes conflicts in family life with an unerring eye. I've called her the Mike Leigh of children's books before, and I still think this comparison stands. She has a wonderful turn of phrase and can sum up the conflicts in relationships in just a few words. Scrappy loves his slightly senile grandfather, but he resents him too and the thought of a social services assessment fills him with dread - If they took him away, what would I be left with?

From these sorts of situation, she builds genuinely tense and creepy thrillers that always use contemporary mores. Here, it's texting - a ubiquitious tool of teen communication, but one that can certainly be used with malice. But what really sets her apart is the dark humour. Just as you're beginning to feel uncomfortable and spooked, she sneaks in with a black joke that makes you laugh out loud. In Quarry, she finds fertile ground with Grandad, who might well be suffering from memory issues, but isn't quite so green as he's cabbage-looking, with Scrappy's lack of success with the ladeez, and with the cat-and-dog-from-hell family pets.

I genuinely had no idea as to the identity of the villain of the piece until a page or two before the end, and the denouement was everything you could want: thrilling, frightening, tense, sad, and cathartic.

Highly recommended.

My thanks to the good people at Marion Lloyd for sending the book.

If they like the look of Quarry, I think they might also enjoy Deathwatch by Nicola Morgan, a creepy and contemporary thriller about stalking, internet privacy and post-traumatic stress.

Buy Quarry by Ally Kennen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Quarry by Ally Kennen at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Quarry by Ally Kennen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Quarry by Ally Kennen at Amazon.com.


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