Angela Davis has been in juvie for three years and her release date is fast approaching. Incarcerated in the Brunesfield Correctional Facility, Angela is identified as one of the more ‘dangerous’ criminals (due to her crimes and the poor decisions she made after committing them), along with her cellmates Issie and Cara. The three girls command respect by the other inmates (which is generally given to them), but even they are not the worst in the place. This honour goes to the girls of the Seg block, who are locked within its confines 24/7 and have psychiatric issues that make them a danger to themselves and others. Punishment involving overnight stays in the Seg block are the ultimate deterrent for bad behaviour, and the staff of Brunesfield wield this threat with authority.
So when a new inmate is brought in to Brunesfield, under different circumstances to the norm, and placed directly into the Seg block, the girls can’t help but be intrigued. Her name is Jessica, and she is a tiny, innocent-looking ten-year-old. Why is she brought in on a weekend when everyone else is admitted during the week? Why is she shackled and heavily guarded? And why is she immediately put into segregation, despite looking sane? What terrible crime could she possibly have committed to warrant such treatment? It’s not long before rumours are flying throughout the facility, but even the rumours have nothing on the truth behind Jessica’s incarceration. Soon, odd things start occurring around the facility and Angela can’t help but wonder if it all has to do with the new, strange little girl. There’s no doubt that Jessica is dangerous, but could there be something more sinister at work?
I have to admit that despite the recommendation on the back cover that this book would be perfect for those who enjoy Orange Is The New Black or Stephen King, I couldn’t see how it could be possible. I mean, the themes involved in these two suggestions are so different- one deals with a based-on-true-life prison tale, while Stephen King’s creations (more often than not) have a whole host of supernatural themes interspersed in reality. How could two seemingly parallel story ideals mesh together to create a book that fans of both would enjoy? Well it seems that Danielle Rollins is a magician because she has managed to bridge a very fine gap that allows for a strangely believable supernaturally-charged juvenile detention storyline. There is just enough credibility that you don’t feel foolish for believing in the abilities that Jessica has, or the subsequent results that follow. Angela’s character is strong and practical, which makes her an ideal candidate to tell the story, especially when it comes to some of the aspects that even she has a little bit of trouble conceiving. Her reactions to different situations are mimicked by the reader, making it easy to believe that strange occurrences could indeed happen in the hallways of Brunesfield Correctional Facility.
This novel deals with interesting concepts, and, despite the fact that the main characters are ‘dangerous criminals’, it also features plenty of warmth, friendship, respect, camaraderie (and a spot of elicit romance!). The slight twist at the end is also unexpected, which makes for an open conclusion and leaves readers with the sense that this book may be finished but the story is just beginning…