Image Description: the book-cover of Black by Fleur Ferris. The cover focuses on a side-profile image of a young lady with dark-hair running through a fog-filled forest of skeletal trees (presumably in winter-time as the trees are without leaves).
About The Author:
Fleur Ferris spent sixteen years working in Police and Ambulance Services in Victoria and South Australia before her debut, Risk, was published by Penguin Random House Australia in 2015. Risk was nominated and won numerous awards, was published internationally and became an Australian Top 10 Bestseller. Risk was adapted to stage by a secondary school in Sweden and that adaptation, Risk: the play, is licensed and available to schools and drama clubs.
Fleur’s second book, Black, came out in 2016 and quickly became Australia’s number one bestselling YA “new release” of 2016 and was optioned for film. Wreck, Fleur’s third crime thriller for young adults, was released in 2017. Found, another action thriller, will be released in July, 2018. Fleur has recently undertaken studies in screenwriting, is co-writing the screenplay adaptation of Black and is working on her next novel which will be released in July 2019.
About The Book:
Ebony Marshall is in her final year of high school. Five months, two weeks and four days . . . She can’t wait to leave the town where she’s known only as ‘Black’. Because of her name, of course. But for another reason, too. Everyone says Black Marshall is cursed. Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. After Oscar, the whispers started. Now she’s used to being on her own. It’s easier that way. But when her date for the formal ends up in intensive care, something in quiet little Dainsfield starts to stir. Old secrets are revealed and terrifying new dangers emerge. If only Black could put all the pieces together, she could work out who her real enemies are. Should she run for her life, or stay and fight?
~Audience Expectations: I began reading this book with the expectation that it was a Crime/Mystery with a side order of Young Adult and Romance, however, it was a Young Adult with a Side Order of Romance and Mystery (in that order). Now, this doesn’t make Black a bad novel, in fact, this novel is the type of book I probably would have enjoyed as a teenager, and I probably should have been reading this type of novel as a teenager (instead of reading books by James Patterson).
In Fleur Ferris’s defence, once those Crime/Mystery elements get rolling, the pacing of the novel is good, however, I would have prefered more gradual and consistent build-up. Another point-of-view in the novel may have helped the slow points.
From my point of view, this would be a very different novel if this was written for an Adult audience, instead of a Young Adult audience. It’s important to remember that a novel like Black will be shaped and influenced by the fact that this was written by an Australian author (a writer in a conservative publishing industry) writing a Young Adult novel (a genre that’s very censored in Australia).
From my perspective, for a novel that focuses on a secret evangelical cult obsessed with demon possession in a rural town, it’s pretty safe. So, for me, Black was a good Young Adult novel, but an average Crime/Mystery novel.
~Stupid Pointless Love Triangle: While the Love Triangle in this novel is handled surprisingly well (which is a problem), however, it tends to highlight the fact that the Love Triangle probably wasn’t needed, and could have been edited out. I object to the existence of Love Triangles in principle because there are many other ways a writer can apply conflict to their novel in order to make it engaging. I found that the most engaging aspects of the novel were when Black reflected on her relationships with other women and young ladies in her life.
~Sliding Scale of Character versus Plot: As mentioned above, the characterisation of Black’s past relationships in comparison to present relationships is actually the most interesting aspect of the novel, so this novel definitely sits further along on the Character end of the Novel spectrum. Normally, I prefer Plot in a Crime/Mystery novel over Character, but the Characterisation in the novel is done well, and the Plot elements are slow to begin.
I like Black, she’s a great main character, she’s realistic and flawed, although there are some hints of “not like other girls” at the beginning. This becomes more understandable as the reader gets to know Black and her situation better, I would also like to point out that these “not like other girls” elements do change by the end of the novel, which I think is the most important thing. Fleur Ferris really shines as a Young Adult author.
All in all, an interesting Young Adult novel from a talented Australian author, happy to recommend to an audience who have an interest in YA and are just beginning to show an interest in the Crime/Mystery genre.
Image Description: a large white square image that has robin’s egg blue water-colour paint-style bordering up against the top and down the bottom of the picture. In the middle of the white square is the text “2019 RMFAO Genre Challenge” in fancy black handwritten text.
Image Description: a silhouette picture of a woman, wearing Victorian-era clothing and wearing a top hat. Her hair is braided into a plait and she is also holding a folded up umbrella. The background is dived up into three segments: mint-green, white in the middle, then mint-green again.