Crocodile by Daniel Shand

The new novel from Betty Trask Prize-winner Daniel Shand explores the loss of childhood innocence.

Book Review by Mika Cook | 26 Oct 2018
Book title: Crocodile
Author: Daniel Shand

Chloe has been sent to stay with her grandparents for the summer, and she has very little say in the matter. She constantly dreams of leaving this unfamiliar and uncomfortable environment and moving back to the comforts of home. However, she soon falls in with a local band of outcasts much like herself, and begins to see that her new life might offer more opportunities than she thought.

Shand’s novel contemplates the experience of childhood and naiveté contrasted with the potential for childlike savagery. Chloe finds her home away from home in the company of Ally, Chris and Darryl, playing Truth or Dare in a treehouse across a busy road. This new game soon becomes more than an animated pastime – it unleashes a new brutality that makes her question the very core of her being. Her mother’s sudden return, hellbent and based on a whim like most of Angie’s actions, brings uproar once again; suddenly it isn’t so clear who is the adult, and who is the child. Chloe’s spiral into self-destruction is only halted when faced with its direct consequences: her own mother.

Crocodile explores the loss of childhood innocence and its abiding consequences. A mirror to her mother, Chloe is the most complicated of fictional characters: a child who is no longer young, but not yet an adult. Poetic, unsettling and provoking, Shand’s writing encompasses not only Chloe’s psyche, but her coping mechanisms, her fears and her dreams.

Sandstone Press, 1 Nov, £8.99