By Ross Sayers
Life, Death and Time Travel on the Glasgow Subway… If this tagline doesn’t lure you into reading Ross Sayers’s latest YA novel, Daisy on the Outer Line, will me saying, read this book, it’s so unbelievably good!, do it?
Daisy on the Outer Line tells the story of 19-year-old Daisy who, on the drunken night of her stepdad’s funeral, finds herself on a mysterious, rattling train on the outer line of the Glasgow Subway that leads her on an extraordinary journey of righting some wrongs and saving a life. Throw in pinch of time-travelling paradoxes and you have a winning narrative that’s grounded in heart, humour and hope.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s written in Scots! But don’t let this last bit put you off, far from it. Delicious in tone and remarkably easy to read, the use of Scottish dialect creates a rather unique experience that boldly reaffirms the beauty and magic of storytelling and reading aloud. (I only hope this is made into an audiobook in the near future!)
Skilfully, and sensitively, woven into this wild mix of Scots and cosmic consequences are important themes surrounding grief and morality, mental health and broken relationships. Yet Sayers has this uncanny ability to bring perfectly-timed laughter and charm to this heaviness that reminded me of the likes of Malcolm Duffy and Alex Wheatle.
As a reader who’s never set foot in Glasgow, reading Daisy on the Outer Line felt like revisiting a favourite city. Entranced by the instant familiarity that came with each descriptive setting, Sayers has this intoxicating ability of teasing a concrete (and for me, unknown) location from within the page and vividly bringing it to life for the reader to embrace and comfortably walk beside Daisy’s own footsteps.
Daisy is a beautifully drawn out and developed character. Purposefully flawed, with a self-destructive core and a tendency to come off as selfish, Daisy is far from your typical hero. Yet her unapologetic honesty and down-to-earth vulnerability makes her one of the most genuine and relatable YA protagonists I’ve read in such a long time. In fact, Daisy reads like a close friend – I cringed with her, and sometimes at her, cried with her, laughed with her and was desperate to see her through to a happy ending.
Unique, heartfelt and utterly hilarious, Daisy on the Outer Line is such a rare reading treat. Oh how I wish I could travel back in time just to re-experience the joys of reading this book for the first time.
Over on TripFiction Ross Sayers tells us about 5 key Glasgow locations from Daisy on the Outer Line, and why he set scenes there, read the piece here.
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For more time travel adventures check out my booklist here!