Publication Date: Available Now
“I open my eyes and I’m close enough to kiss a dead girl.”
Three years ago, sixteen year old Desmond Linc almost died in the car accident that killed his brother. Now he’s all but forgotten the damage, a dead space in his brain physicians swore would never awaken.
But it has.
Terrified he’s losing his mind, Des comes face to face with the tortured ghosts of his hometown. The black hole in his head is a doorway to the afterlife and the dead come telling secrets and lies and wielding accusations like scythes.
They tell the truth about one thing though, a killer has come to Northwood.
Way back in 2013 when I was still a fledgling reviewer, I won a novel called “I am Forgotten” in a Goodreads giveaway. I fell in love with that book, with it’s surprising twists and turns and beautiful writing – I believe there is a sequel in the works which I shall watch out for. After that the author took a break but now is back so when she contacted me asking if I would read and review “Brain Damage” I was genuinely very excited. For good reason – I’ve banged through this one at every given opportunity the last couple of days and I loved it.
Brain Damage follows Des, who’s brother died in the same horrific accident that gave Des a terrible brain injury. After a second knock to the head suddenly he is seeing dead people. Yes I know – it’s true as well that Brain Damage is kind of a Sixth Sense for Young Adults and it is highly engaging, very creepy in places with quirky, layered characters who are both funny and emotionally resonant.
A bit like with I am Forgotten, the author mashes together some genre’s with some brilliant storytelling -a mix of ghost story, murder mystery and character drama we follow Des, best friend Merit, the divisive Joey and a rather unusual ghost hunter as they try and unravel the mysteries of the mind. Is Des really seeing ghosts or is this just a symptom of his accident? Does the black hole in his memory from just after the accident hold a clue?
The plotting is taut and often haunting, the descriptive sense of this young boy’s visions really hits home and may have you jumping at shadows. The novel also manages to explore many life themes – rehabilitation after injury, mental illness and coming to terms with sexuality – often thought provoking whilst being wildly entertaining, Brain Damage is highly addictive.
Much as I hate to pressure J.A. St Thomas, what she has done now is not only make me wish harder for the sequel to I Am Forgotten but wish as well for more in the life of Des and friends. When I got to the end I was sad to leave them behind – with a clever little twist of the tale in the final moments, my engagement with the world built here was complete. Really excellent and I’d love more please. Also I’m digging out my copy of IAF and reading that again over Christmas.
Talented writing here – it is true that both Brain Damage and I Am Forgotten fall into that category of books that I think why are these not getting the bestseller treatment – so I’ll do my little bit to try and get them out there – they both come Highly Recommended from me. Give one or both a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.