On the anniversary of his sister's death seven-year old Sam becomes inhabited by a malevolent being called Del-Del. The change is gradual, but soon Del-Del has taken control. Sam's behaviour is tearing the family apart and no one can tell if Sam is acting out because of his grief or whether the truth is much darker--possession. Told through fourteen-year-old Beth's eyes, this is a story that takes the reader into the darkest parts of the human mind, and the universe.
Del-Del (1991) is a short novel, not even 200 pages, so I was surprised at the speed with which Sam became Del-Del and the family brought in the inevitable exorcist. Clearly there was going to be more to this novel than pea soup and talking in tongues. The first thing that I found curious was that Sam is purportedly a genius. Being a big spec fic fan I was gunning for there being a supernatural element to this book. But Sam's abilities keep the reader guessing. Is he clever enough to manufacture first a possession, and then an entirely more complicated series of events? And if he is making it all up, then why?
I read Del-Del on the recommendation of a friend who told me about it while reminiscing about his favourite books from his high school years. I can see why Del-Del stuck in his mind all these years later. It's a gripping, fast-paced tale, simply told but highly affecting. Find yourself a dog-eared copy on eBay if you like thrilling, psychological reads.
Two more cool things: Victor Kelleher is Australian (OK, UK born and raised in Africa, but whatever) and Del-Del won Children's Book of the Year in 1992. I particularly enjoyed the Sydney setting for this novel. Fantastic Australian books always get me so excited.