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Reader Reviewed
Alice and the Fly by James Rice

Alice and the Fly

Literary Fiction   Debuts of the Month   Family Drama   Relationship Stories   eBook Favourites   
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September 2015 Debut of the Month.

Greg is a schizophrenic teenager who also suffers from arachnophobia. He has a lisp, a problem talking and is badly bullied at school, nicknamed ‘Psycho’. He becomes obsessed with a girl, Alice, who has a drunken father and Greg dreams of running away with her. Greg’s English teacher, who has had a traumatic childhood herself, wants to help him and suggests he keeps a private journal. He uses this journal as if writing to Alice. He was diagnosed aged six when he, in an attempt to move numerous ‘phantom’ spiders from his four-year sister, clawed her until she bled. We learn this in transcripts of interviews with a detective trying to gather facts, so we know something dreadful has happened. The interviews intersperse the first-person narrative of the journal. It is an atmospheric, chilling read of mental illness. Very sad. ~ Sarah Broadhurst

If you like James Rice you might also like to read books by Nathan Filer, Tom Rob Smith and Matthew Quick.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Amanda Keeling - 'Captivating. I didn't want it to end.' Read full review >
  • Jade Craddock - 'A compelling story that offers a refreshing perspective on illness and mental health.' Read full review >
  • Sophia Ufton - 'Amazing story, couldn't put it down and it has a creepy theme that stayed with me after I read it. Brilliant!' Read full review >
  • Michelle Mckernan - 'This is an unusual book told from the perspective of a teenage boy. I was intrigued from the start and couldn't wait to see where the story took me.' Read full review >
  • Rebecca Cockeram - 'An intriguing page turner, that's really pulls at your heart...The book is heartwarming, tragic and quite frankly brilliant.' Read full review >
  • Pam Kennedy - 'I think that this book was well written and easy to read.' Read full review >
  • Anne Cater - 'Every once in a while I start a new book and almost immediately, the hairs on the back of my neck prickle and I know that this book is going to be one that I will be talking about for years.' Read full review >
  • Sienna Logan - 'This was a strange read for me and not what I was expecting. It both had me wanting to read on, while at the same time something just didn't connect with me.' Read full review >
  • Suzanne Beney - 'A great concept, which just wasn’t given the time to mature into a great book.' Read full review >
  • Emma Halford 'Incredibly impressive debut novel. I can't remember ever wanting so much to be able to reach into a book and save a character. Compelling and convincing writing.' Read full review >
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Witten through the eyes of a teenager, this will break your heart and leave you troubled with the ways of the world that leaves a young person left isolated from society.' Read full review >
  • Genevieve McAllister - 'James Rice’s debut novel cleverly mixes the universal terrors of being a teenager (first love, bunking off, parties) with the more specific problems of having to deal with mental illness.' Read full review >
  • Victoria Halliday - 'A compellingly-narrated, compulsive - and sad - read.' Read full review >
  • Sharon Lowe - 'I found this book interesting, the story about a young boy a teenage boy, who had phobias, discovering love and family who were more interested in themselves than what was happening in front of them.' Read full review >
  • Kristy West - 'A good, solid debut novel about fears, phobias, growing up and falling in love.' Read full review >
  • Fiona Maclean - 'Quirky and captivating, this book takes you inside the mind of a rather confused teenager. The black ending doesn't disappoint.' Read full review >
  • Suzanne Marsh - 'Alice and the Fly is astonishing.'  Read full review >
  • Sharon Butler - 'This is one of the most bizarre and strange books that I have ever read... I found this book challenging and hard going to read... All in all, not my sort of book at all.' Read full review >


Alice and the Fly by James Rice

This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It's about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it's about love. Finding love - in any of its forms - and nurturing it. 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.


'One of the most stunning debuts I've read in a long time. The talent behind it is huge.' -- Helen Walsh, author of The Lemon Grove

'Alice and the Fly is a darkly quirky story of love, obsession and fear. A disconcerting but beautiful story hung around the enchanting and heartbreaking voice of teenager Greg.'
Anna James, The Bookseller

About the Author

James Rice

James Rice lives in Liverpool. In 2011 he completed an MA in Writing at Liverpool John Moores University and has since finished his debut novel, Alice and the Fly - the first chapter of which won the Writing On The Wall Festival's novel-writing competition 'Pulp Idol'. He also writes short stories, several of which have been published, and writes songs with his friend Josh, which he sings in a very high-pitched voice people have charitably referred to as 'unique'. He is currently working on his second novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

27th August 2015


James Rice

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Hodder Paperback an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division


336 pages


Literary Fiction
Debuts of the Month
Family Drama
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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