In a tall and narrow house, on a stained and busy street, live twelve-year-old Oliver and his father, a story-loving writer. Haunted by the ghost of his alcoholic mother, Oliver finds comfort in his father's impromptu tales: the Black Dove, an elusive flower that gives strength; the girl who consumes it as she battles attackers and yearns for happier realms. Stories where lonely souls keep searching despite their losses and grief.
Running from a bully one night, Oliver finds refuge in a junk shop owned by an enigmatic man. Soon, instead of hiding in the janitor's closet after school, Oliver spends afternoons in the shop, a cavernous place full of storied oddities and grubby wonders where creatures rise up from the basement. A snake in the shape of a boy. A hunter named Night, part panther, part hound, who proves to Oliver that the world holds invisible wonder.
Wanting to forget his mother, afraid of his own genes, constantly harassed by bullies, Oliver decides to follow the shop-owner down the path of genetic editing. As he begins his transformation he meets the girl from across the street, and their friendship grows in a neighbourhood where magic is real, where murderers gather, and where the darker consequences of fantasies play out.
A twisting story of grief and revenge, Black Dove is a thrilling read with its own kind of magic. In rich but tightly reined prose, McAdam celebrates the value and shortfalls of storytelling, finding a light in all the darkness to conjure a tender portrait of childhood's end. (From Hamish Hamilton)