Words: Jasmine Uitermark-Thaung
Imagine… trapped inside a shopping centre with an abundance of food, technology and no one to tell you what to do. It all sounds pretty sweet but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t quite all it was cracked up to be for four young adults living the reality of this scenario in Carousel, Brendan Ritchie’s debut novel.
The exposition of this post-apocalyptic mystery although setting the scene for the reader didn’t flow as well as I would hope. Grappling for my attention Ritchie introduced the protagonist, Nox, and his observations of indie musicians Taylor and Lizzy in the large Carousel shopping complex. With a keen eye for detail expressed whilst Nox explores his surroundings, the reader is thrown right in alongside this confused arts graduate as he ponders how he got to the centre and whether he’s even in the right place.
As the storyline evolved I kept waiting for the crucial twist that would leave me gripping my bookmark even tighter than I was but the convoluted story just kept advancing on a momentous march through shopping centre woes. I loved the feeling of being right alongside the characters as they tried to maintain some sort of control and normalcy.
With the plot growing thicker, the uniqueness of the novel really took hold of me as I realised I’d never actually read anything quite like Carousel.The book’s setting for me was what maintained my intrigue as I compared the character’s battles in the book with my own internal view and experiences of Westfield Carousel. From behind a distant window pane reader’s not familiar with the location may not have the same connection but for my fellow south of the river pals and frequent Carousel visitors the proximity will certainly have an impact. Sitting back in my cosy chair and reflecting just how peculiar it would be for a normally bustling centre to be empty and decaying made me question how long I would last and the scenario is going to be a widespread question at the core of this novel with readers drawing up their escape plan from their local shopping complex as they immerse themselves within a thoroughly enticing read.
Without divulging too much, Carousel’scharacters whilst keeping an air about them take you on a completely engrossing journey as you form a fictional friendship with them. It was frustrating to be kept guessing throughout this plot, I wanted answers but all I surfaced with were more questions and some terrible conspiracy theories as I consumed the words of this story to no end waiting for the zombies to pounce on the laidback crew. No matter what your view is whilst making your way through this solidly written piece, Carousel will have you deliberating every exit behind its now ominous glass doors. I, myself am incredibly ready for my questions to be answered in the form of this talented new author’s sequel.