Review: “The Accident Season” Skillfully Combines Magic, Mystery and Pain

Anahita Padmanabhan ’18/Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

For one month every year, Cara and her family suffer from suddenly becoming accident prone. Every October, minor accidents suddenly turn catastrophic; this year, Cara, with the help of her friends and family, is about to find out why. Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s debut novel, published in hardcover by Penguin and Kathy Dawson Books in August, combines mystery and magical-realism to create a story about love and pain.

The Accident Season is told through the perspective of seventeen-year-old Cara, who spends the novel attempting to find Elsie, a classmate whose disappearance is so mysterious that that no one seems to know anything about it, as well as planning the perfect Halloween party. But as those stories unfolds, Fowley-Doyle seamlessly shows more than the reader anticipated. She draws out the mystery of Elsie, of Cara’s past, and of the accident season, revealing the answers only at the very end, which keeping the reader engaged.

"The Accident Season" Cover. Source: Penguin/ Dawson Books
“The Accident Season” Cover. Source: Penguin/ Dawson Books

Fowley-Doyle peppers Cara’s present day story with glimpses into her past, slowly unraveling what may have started the accident season , though it simply comes across as background information on Cara’s family. It is only at the end of the novel that the stories start to connect and make sense. Fowley-Doyle also champions the art of magical-realism. Weaving fantasy, things that seem impossible yet clearly there, into Cara’s story, Fowley-Doyle brings wonder into her writing, and amplifies the sense of mystery in the novel.

The characters all are written quite realistically, each with their own set of issues and inner demons they have to deal with. For a novel that is centered around the paranormal, Fowley-Doyle tackles topics that are quite real. By the end of the novel the reader is left feeling disoriented from the rollercoaster that is The Accident Season and needing some time to process what has taken place. What starts as a straightforward story about a girl, her family and friends slowly turns confusing and complicated with the different facets that are added, and ends with a conclusion that somehow both resolves and doesn’t resolve all the mystery that came before.

With magical-realism being uncommon among YA literature, Fowley-Doyle brings something different to the genre. Her writing is haunting and leaving the reader what is real and what is not. With a unique love story, characters and style of writing, Fowley-Doyle manages to combine the unrealistic with a painful truth. And while the characters are fighting their demons, learning the truth, and piecing together a puzzle that has haunted them for years, the reader is there every step of the way, fighting, learning and solving alongside them.

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