(Puffin, 224 pages, £5.99, published 3 February 2005.)
and Flesh And Blood -- a pair of novels that this reviewer thoroughly
enjoyed. With Incubus, the author remains on young-adult ground,
focussing again on a family beset by troubles, but this time we have
the addition of a fantasy archetype from ancient Germany ...
is Nick Gifford's third novel, following the well-received
Danny's father is in jail following a night of madness in which he
killed five people. Danny has his suspicions about the event, not least
because he has read a notebook in which his father reveals a certain
fact; he was tormented by voices in his head. Now Danny is terrified
of going the same way -- like father, like son -- and so he has developed
a persona based on remaining cool and keeping everything under control.
Following the murders, Danny's mother and his gran moved to a hippy-style
retreat in the Westcountry (a superbly drawn institution, this, leavened
with much humour). But then Danny meets Cassie, a schoolfriend. Cassie
is a local, and she is intrigued by the reticent Danny. Together the
pair embark on a tentative relationship, in which Cassie tries to draw
information out of Danny, and Danny wonders how much he should tell
Eventually Danny grasps that the voices in his father's head -- and
in his own -- are the work of a kobold, an ancient German creature loyal
to the family. As more is revealed, as Danny and Cassie struggle to
learn what is going on, as Danny's mother Val begins a new relationship,
and as Danny's father escapes from prison, the novel progresses to a
This lode that Nick Gifford is mining is really good stuff! Incubus
is another very well written, readable, enjoyable and original novel.
It feels like a cross between the first two: perhaps not as claustrophobic
as Flesh And Blood, but with the larger-scale setting of Piggies.
The author's skill is both in depicting families in turmoil -- Danny
is a particularly convincing lead character, and his family are all
well-drawn -- and in presenting these families with difficult situations
that they must resolve. In Flesh And Blood that combination was
tightly bound; in Incubus there is a wider, deeper setting, bringing
in WW2 and the Berlin Wall.
A book that will be enjoyed by all this author's fans. Hopefully more
is to come.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: