Special is a chilling and subversive debut novel about adolescent girls forging their identities – at any price. A group of teenage schoolgirls are on a field trip to the Forest of Dean.

Vain, spoilt and interested primarily in sex, alcohol and outfits, the girls squabble and smoke, skive and bitch, torment their teachers and betray their friends, and the reader bears witness to the development and disintegration of relationships.

So far, so typical. But this world of teenagers is a hall of mirrors, where the everyday can become monstrous, and nothing is quite what you expect. Soon enough something dark and sinister begins to move underneath the surface.

Author: Bella Bathurst
Amazon rating: 3.3 out of 5 stars
Published in 2002

“Distance is a relative concept. If you think it’s going to be far, it will be far. If you think it’s just round the corner, it will be round the corner.”

“If there had been love, then it must have been of the most fragile kind.”

“The tears wouldn’t let her stop them any longer. She crushed her wrist against her face, pushing them away. But they kept coming, kept burning down her face. The worst thing was, she didn’t even know why.”

“We’re not better. We’re different, but we’re not better.”

“Her sleep had been unusually dark, and when she woke it seemed as if some extreme noise had been abruptly switched off.”

“They don’t hate you for anything you do, they hate you –us- because they’ve got to hate someone. It’s just the way it works.”

“It seemed to be a standard rule of musical appreciation that the weirder the band’s name, the better they were considered to be.”“She felt a sudden impulse to fold his wrist inside her own hand, to feel that human solidity against her own skin.”

“You walk down the street, you go to a club, and you don’t look at the men, you look at the girls… You look at the girls and you think, nice skirt, crap ankles, bad hair, face like a dog, wish I had a pair like that, God, those must be fake, cute nose, whatever. You walk down a street, and that’s what you think, that’s what you look for.”