Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition’s caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I’ll flood out all these tears and it’ll all be ok and I won’t be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can’t think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories – Herb’s death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah – but none of these are what caused the phobia. I’ve always had it. It’s Them. I’m just scared of Them. It’s that simple.
The story in this debut by James Rice is told by Greg, as he writes to Alice, a girl he likes, in his journal. Greg comes across as an awkward, shy boy with a phobia of ‘Them’ (which turn out to be spiders) but as the book goes on, it’s obvious there is more to be told. In fact, the story is interspersed with extracts of interviews of various characters with the police, which hint of much deeper issues.
Alice and the Fly is a book which gradually takes hold, as we find out more about Greg, his family, and his mental health problems. Telling the story from Greg’s point of view allows you to experience how he sees his world, and yet there is enough information to allow you to see what’s really going on, all the way to the heartbreaking conclusion.