Book Review: Alice and the Fly by James Rice

A spellbinding debut novel by an exceptional new young British talent.

This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It’s about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it’s about love. Finding love – in any of its forms – and nurturing it.

Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition’s caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I’ll flood out all these tears and it’ll all be ok and I won’t be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can’t think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories – Herb’s death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah – but none of these are what caused the phobia. I’ve always had it. It’s Them. I’m just scared of Them. It’s that simple. (from

Published January 2015 by Hodder and Stoughton

I didn’t know much about this book going into it, the blurb-as intriguing as it is-actually gives away very little. And that’s definitely a good thing, knowing so little is the best way to get the most from this book and the authors intention of revealing the story slowly works very well. Of course this makes it difficult to review! I really wouldn’t want to give too much away here.

Alice and the Fly is pretty dark. Main character Greg has his issues, but it’s the characters around him, as everyday as they appear, that really gave me the chills. This story is one of innocence and dysfunction, repercussions and responsibility (or lack of it). We know there’s a huge, traumatic climax, alluded to in police transcripts interspersed between chapters, but by the slow reveal of the story I found my sympathies lay where they probably wouldn’t have had I already known what was going to happen.

The writing in Alice and the Fly really adds to the sense of looming tragedy, with an almost eerily naivety and honesty. I’ve seen it likened to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time by Mark Haddon, and I’d say that’s pretty fair. James Rice really does capture his complex, confused and troubled young character very well, and I found him completely believable.

With snappy chapters, broken up by the transcripts, this was a book that I found myself glued to, the pages turning effortlessly. I’d recommend this both as older, mature YA and Adult reading. It really is a fantastic debut, and an author I’ll definitely be looking out for in the future.

My copy was a free advance reader through the Amazon Vine Program

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Alice and the Fly by James Rice

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