The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney
A fascinating debut novel from an author with enormous promise, The Behaviour Of Moths is the neo-gothic story of a dysfunctional family told from the viewpoint of the obsessional, deluded and probably autistic elder daughter, Virginia. Set in a huge, crumbling mansion in Dorset, the narrative focuses on the return of Virginia's younger sister, Vivien and its effect on Virginia's hermetically-sealed senility.
Virginia's youth was spent working alongside her lepidopterist father, Clive and the text seethes with the minutiae of their research, the alien details of the insect world with its cast of parasites and cannibals providing a ghastly commentary on the behaviour of Virginia and her family.
What I particularly liked about the narrative was the difference between Virginia's version of the tangled events that lead to two deaths and the version that the reader is gradually allowed to unravel. Not all of the questions are answered and we are left with a degree of uncertainty but that is part of the pleasure of the book. Like Clive, we observe the behaviour of the specimens and we draw our own conclusions.