Brisbane writer Chris Bongers has the knack of keeping it down to earth, even when it’s something as horrifying as waking to find a home invader in your room.
In Intruder (Random House), Bongers uses the terrifying incident to unveil and transform the secluded life of 14-year-old Kat.
Kat lives at home with her piano-playing, bakery-working father, with both of them haunted by the death of her mother.
The shadow of the child welfare department hangs over them after an earlier incident, and next door lurks the ‘witch’, the best friend of her mother who has given Kat reason to distrust her.
The intruder is a catalyst for Kat to examine her family and her beliefs and to take charge of a life lived on autopilot. Along the way, she finds new allies: a good-looking lad at the dog park, and her new defender, an ugly but endearing mutt called Hercules.
Bongers does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life with all their foibles; her descriptions of Herc and his interaction with Kat are priceless.
There’s a lot of charm in this yarn, mixing humour and tension in a believable scenario that unearths home truths and serves up a warning about the dangers of jumping to conclusions. It also contains a message of the power of family and trust to overcome even the most dire of situations.
Kat and dog might not be superheroes, but they make a winning pair.