Kick the Animal Out, By Véronique Ovaldé

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The Independent Culture

A first-person novel that pivots on the vanishing of a disturbed teenage girl's flaky mum sounds like a recipe for gritty realism. Yet this sensuous and sinister French récit delivers a more artful punch.

We meet 15-year-old Rose, daughter of a glamorously wasted mother of the same name, as she plans to leap from their flat clad in a vampire cape.

Gradually, we glimpse the family forces that left a sad but shrewd adolescent with a "mad girl" slumbering inside, like "a quicksilver fish in the bottom of a creel".

In Adriana Hunter's fine translation, Ovaldé's sumptuous settings – a sun-struck seaside resort, and the snowbound mountains beyond – give a radiant frame to this story of "immeasurable loss".

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