The Behaviour of Moths

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am

The Behaviour of Moths
by Poppy Adams
Virago HK$114

The first novel by the London-based Poppy Adams, The Behaviour of Moths is largely a game of two sisters. The first, Ginny, is somewhat obsessive, reclusive, a collector of moths and also our narrator. As the novel begins, Ginny is doing what all good storytellers do at some time or another: she is staring out of the window. In fact, she is on the lookout for her little sister, the more vivacious Vivi, to return to the eerie family house she has avoided for almost half a century. One suitably creepy reason is given at the off. Although Ginny says there is 'rarely a sole cause for the separation of lives', she admits that the moment when 'Vivi slipped off our bell-tower and nearly died' may have had something to do with it. By now, Adams has laid some clues that neither Ginny nor her story can be trusted: those quaintly old-fashioned names and that gothic mansion. As the pages turn effortlessly, truth emerges from the holes in Ginny's tall fairy tale. It is gripping, if contrived stuff. Perfect opposites, the sisters mirror one another like the wings of a metaphorical moth. It may not be deep, but Adams' debut is certainly compelling.