Cor blimey, what a ride through the pages of The Switching Hour, the debut novel from Damaris Young. Just spooky enough for Halloween reading, or for when the nights close in. But not too spooky that it’ll stop yourself from falling asleep with pleasant dreams!
Amaya lives with her protective grandmother and her toddling little brother, Kaleb. The terrible drought has made food scarce, and now the lakes are close to drying up completely. Life has changed so much, not least because the drought has awoken the terrifying Badeko, striking fear into the hearts of all.
Badeko comes out during the switching hour, as day switches to night. The creature prowls the land looking for young people to snatch. It feeds off their dreams, and is hungry for more. Many more. As darkness begins to fall, the communities rush back to the safety of their homes – but they must ensure windows are locked and doors are bolted. It’s a ritual her grandmother painstakingly goes through with Amaya so carefully every, single night. So when she’s called away on a sudden emergency she can rely on Amaya to follow the ritual through. Right?
Turns out that looking after a toddler is hard work. Exhausted at the end of the day, Amaya falls into bed… without locking the door. Disaster strikes.
Amaya sets out on a desperate mission to rescue Kaleb from the clutches of Badeko, a feat no-one has achieved before. Time is not on Amaya’s side. With every day that passes the memory of Kaleb fades… until he will be forgotten forever.
Young’s narrative expertly captures Amaya’s inner strength and determination as she sets out on this all important journey. The trials and hurdles Amaya faces as she races against time to rescue her brother are wonderfully spine-chilling. I was struck by the vividness of the descriptions of the parched land, just right for her readers, and was not surprised to later discover that Young wrote this during a drought. Young’s narrative occasionally switches to the point of view of Badeko, evoking all the senses it is wonderfully strong. The beautiful use of language, alongside a terrifically paced plot, make this novel all consuming. You won’t want to put this one down.
The Switching Hour is a thrilling journey, you’re going to love it!