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At an exclusive girls’ boarding school, a sixteen-year-old girl records her most intimate thoughts in a diary. The object of her obsession is her room-mate, Lucy Blake, and Lucy’s friendship with their new and disturbing classmate. Ernessa is a mysterious presence with pale skin and hypnotic eyes. Around her swirl dark secrets and a series of ominous disasters. As fear spreads through the school, fantasy and reality mingle into a waking nightmare of gothic menace, fuelled by the lusts and fears of adolescence.
And at the centre of the diary is the question that haunts all who read it: Is Ernessa really a vampire? Or is the narrator trapped in her own fevered imagination?
'The Moth Diaries delves deeper into the neuroses and psyche of female adolescence than anything I've ever read. It is dark and dangerous, gothic, brutally revealing, regularly shocking and perfectly controlled ... Rachel Klein plays brilliantly with the 'unreliable narrator' device ... The Moth Diaries is marketed for teenagers. It needn't be, but I think many will love it, as will anyone who likes to be swallowed by dangerous stories; who likes books that reveal more with each reading; who dares to be shocked and often moved. Yet for me there is something extra that makes this book special; it is the voice of lovely irony, almost satire, ensuring that our personal response to the diarist includes respect and affection, not just pity and distaste.'
'one of the scariest books I've ever read. I was home alone when I decided to curl up with the book at bedtime. The result was a fearful, sleepless night haunted by Klein's dark imaginings as every shadow appeared malevolent and threatening ... a deliciously terrifying read, a supernatural psychological thriller.'
'Thought set in the '60s, the story has a timeless quality. The triggers for the girls' anxieties - anorexia, boys, teenage pregnancy and drugs - will strike chords with any modern teenager. Klein captures the intensity of adolescent relationships, and how desperate one can be at that age to find one's place in the world. She writes in subtle, assured prose, which is evocative and wholly believable. Whether the book is read as a ghost story, or more simply, as that of a disturbed teenage girl's gradual loss of her hold on reality, The Moth Diaries is consistently gripping.'
'Another dark, intense and claustrophobic novel is The Moth Diaries, a startling fictional debut by Rachel Klein. This is a heady literary novel, set in the late 1960s. The 'diaries' are framed by a preface and afterword, from the vantage of some indeterminate point of parenthood, which make it apparent that the narrator subsequently required psychiatric treatment. A book about self-involvement and obsession with those boarding in neighbouring rooms, it is by no means only for teenage readers.'
'Though The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein (Faber, £9.99) is set in the intense, febrile atmosphere of a 1960s American girls' boarding school it is in a different class altogether - and not just because the girls read Nietzsche rather than Tatler. The unnamed narrator starts with a preface explaining that her psychiatrist suggested she publish her journal, which she is reading again for the first time in 30 years, so the reader is primed to expect mental illness. But as you are sucked further in to the narrator's claustrophobic world - obsessed with her best friend Lucy who appears to be wasting away, increasingly suspicious of the strange new girl Ernessa, her paranoia fed by reading le Fanu's vampiric novel Carmilla - you lose your own grip on reality. As the narrator says, adolescent journals are like dolls houses, "once you look inside them, the rest of the world seems very far away".'
'Rachel Klein's book is a most elegant and beautiful hardback ... It's a wonderfully Gothic story, even though it's set in the 1960s, and I adored every word of it ... My advice is: read this terrific, skilful, fascinating book at once before they've decided on casting. It deserves every success.'
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