Creature of the Night by Kate ThompsonColumbine: This is a very compelling book, but upsetting, both because of the central character who is rather urban and gritty and not at all sympathetic and because of the fairy subplot about an abandoned changeling.

Bobby, the fourteen-year-old narrator, is a bit loathsome to tell the truth, a thief and a liar, and revolting to his admittedly feeble mother. When the family moves to the country his only thought is how to get back to a life of crime in Dublin. Later on he does show some human qualities of diligence and doggedness, and there’s a hint he won’t turn out so bad. But you are unlikely to enjoy seeing the world from his point of view.

It is his little brother Dennis who has the fairy encounter. The cottage they are living in is on a path between two fairy forts. The family are warned by the farmer’s wife to put out a bowl of milk every night, but being citified they find this quite hilarious. Being deprived of the milk, the little old fairy woman comes through the cat flap into the kitchen.

Dennis takes it in his stride, but for Bobby, who has only whispers and odd noises and indications to go by, the whole business is sinister and nightmarish to a degree. He hears the story of the people who many years ago lived in the cottage with a strange daughter they thought was a changeling, who used to shriek in the night: “high shrieking, like something out of hell. You couldn’t tell if it was pain or anger or both… Once you got that sound in your head there was no way you would sleep again that night.” Eventually he puts the two things together and has a unexpected realization about the little woman, imagining her living lonely and scared in the fairy fort.