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Synopsis

Everything about John is off-kilter.

He’s sixteen now, out of school and out of work. It’s the early 1970s: shipyards in Clydebank are no longer hiring and a long stretch on the dole is imminent. But on a day when the town is covered by a deluge of snow, his life is changed by an act of kindness: he helps a wee girl, Lily, get to school on time.

She waits for him to meet her outside the school gates every day, but he seems to be the only one who can see her. This provokes a backlash that ripples out from concerned mothers at school to the parish priest of St Stephen’s and invites institutional responses that involve the police and psychiatric care.

The unspoken hope is that John can be ‘cured’ of what has seduced him. But Lily has bled into other parts of John’s family life, in a novel which is an exploration of the physical and the psychological, of spiritual crises and the occult.

Dark, haunting, and told by alternating narrators, Lily Poole disrupts your assumptions about mental health and who can be trusted when the truth becomes threadbare.

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