21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories
Dreamscapes Two
More Original Fiction

The International Writers Magazine: Review

Dead Father's Club by Matt Haig
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Jonathan Cape ( 2006)
ISBN: 0224076132
Lynn Ede

Highly original in its presentation, yet with marked comparison to Hamlet, this yarn speaks to us all through the mind of an eleven year old boy and his dead father’s ghost. As alarming as that sounds, it’s surprisingly easy to accept. Like in Shakespeare’s tale, the lad, Philip Noble, learns that his Dad didn’t die but was murdered. Dad’s Ghost, as Philip calls him, reveals this information and his son is given the task of seeking retribution against the killer, his Dad’s own brother, Uncle Alan.

Home for Philip is a public house, somewhat squalid and sordid with dodgy friends and acquaintances dropping by. Philip struggles with his grief as one might imagine a young boy would but added to his misery is his mother’s increasing reliance on the murderer himself. Uncle Alan moves in to the family home, assuming the paternal role, inciting a bubbling fury inside Phillip whose loyalty is to his father.

Running through the book is the presence of Dad’s Ghost who is stuck in the hapless hell of ‘the terrors’ – a halfway existence of purgatorial pain – .until revenge against Uncle Alan, his killer, can be realised. Phillip is chosen to secure this freedom for his Dad and so ensues endless plans for a tit-for-tat murder plot which sees Philip driven mad by the task

Like most burgeoning teens, Phillip finds love in a girl called Leah, distracting him from the mission and becoming part of the plot itself. Matt Haig’s descriptions of grief, as told from a young person’s perspective, are moving indeed with accurate portrayal of young, pubescent angst.

The language is told in stream of consciousness style, unpunctuated and sometimes rambling, intended no doubt to show the way a young boy’s mind works. Once you get used to this it does add something to the text, though at times is irritating in that it comes out more like a five year old’s lingo. Eleven year-olds, especially today, have more mature thoughts and actions than sometimes appear in this book.

That said, Dead Father’s Club is one of those must-reads of the year provoking thought and insightful peeks into the mind of the bereaved along with intriguing other-worldly goings-on set in a compelling tale.

© Lynn Ede Freelance Journalist Nov 2006
Lynn ede <


© Hackwriters 1999-2011 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy - no liability accepted by or affiliates.