SUMMARY (the blurb, find the book on Goodreads): Zach and his sister Annis have been uprooted from their home in London to live in a half-built barn in France. It is a desperate attempt by their parents to salvage not only their marriage, but a family as well.
When Zach chooses to defy his parents' wishes and visit a nearby ruined building, things really take a turn for the worse. A terrible accident leaves him crushed and broken beneath a collapsed wall. Annis can't believe that he could still be alive – but then Zach moves.
How on earth could Zach have survived such a terrible accident? And who is the sinister boy who appears out of nowhere? The boy who starts shadowing Zach, drawing ever nearer, ever closer…
When Zach survives an accident that should have killed him, strange, sinister things start happening around him. As it is common for YA novels, the only person he can count on is his younger sister Annis, as their parents are clueless, too absorbed in their marital problems, and unwilling to actually listen to Zach and Annis.
So far so good. The main issue of the book, namely what happened/is happening to Zach, revolves around an unique and intriguing idea concerning avoiding death and the price that comes with it. However, I think it would be better explored through the eyes of more mature characters. It seemed to me as if Collins could not decide whether to focus on Zach's and Annis' teenage angst or on the mortality issue.
Zach and Annis are typical teenagers: they defy their parents, they behave stupidly and sometimes selfishly, and they quarrel for silly reasons. Of course, they love and help each other and cover for one another. I do not want to say too much about them lest I spoil the book for you. Let me just say, they have their problems, Annis' poor self-esteem being one of the most important ones. Additionally, there are some things about them I would like to know which Collins does not provide. Due to the holes in characters' presentation, I did not really care about what happens to Zach and Annis.
The thing that annoyed me very much was the discrepancy between their behaviour and age. Only one third into the book we learn Zach and Annis are 17 and 15, respectively. But, they talk and think like children aged perhaps 12 – 15, and they parents boss them around like that, too. However, in contrast to this, they allow them to drink coffee and wine (!), and expect them to be responsible like adults. This combination of behaviour/treatment is very confusing, and it ruins the exploration of an otherwise interesting topic.
Overall, A Trick of the Dark is based upon a fascinating idea. Unfortunately, it is not thoroughly explored.
RECOMMENDATION: A Trick of the Dark has some intriguing elements. It could be an interesting read if you like YA characters and if you don't mind the fact that both the topic and the characters are dealt with somewhat superficially.