Title: Barnacle Brat
Author: Adrian Baldwin
Page Count/Review Word Count: 406
I feel like there should be a disclaimer here because this book was sent to me, but it wasn’t for review purposes – it was a gift, a Secret Santa present from the author himself. Not so secret, then.
Still, I’m far from ungrateful – it turned out to be a cracking read, a well-written book from a guy who’s got a history of writing for the screen. Barnacle Brat is Baldwin’s first novel, a “dark comedy for grown-ups” with a seriously interesting story-line and more twists than you can shake a stick at.
I won’t go into too much detail when it comes to the plot, but I will tell you that it follows a young man called Leon who sees a lot of weird stuff that no-one else can see, including an angry clown with a baseball bat who seems to be out to get him. His visions get more and more disturbing, and along the way you’re treated to a rollercoaster ride through his bizarre but endearing psyche.
Leon’s on a mission to move away from Manchester to Wales to settle down and get some writing done, a mission which I suspect the writer bases on reality – Baldwin made the same journey himself, and here he really is writing about what he knows, although he claims that he never had an imaginary friend.
Personally, I thought that the book was a real barnstormer, something you could read again and again, discovering extra layers to the story every time – I think that, in part, that’s because there are so many twists that your perspective on Leon changes over time, and you’re almost a different reader at the end of the book than you were at the start. It’s pretty rare for an author to achieve that.
Overall, this is a cracker of a novel, an impressive debut by a man who clearly knows his way around a story – it’s recommended reading for pretty much anyone, but especially for people who like the weird and surreal or for people with a great sense of humour. If you’re afraid of clowns, though, then I suggest you try something else – apart from the fact that Pogo the clown sounds absolutely terrifying, there’s also a massive picture of him on the cover. You wouldn’t want to have nightmares now, would you?