Books, Art, & Visual Culture


Writing and design by Melissa Hill, graphic designer.

The Special Ones by Em Bailey


I really didn’t know what to expect from this book when I picked it up. In that, I had no idea what it was about. My husband knows I enjoy a bit of YA fiction, and he entered a competition on Instagram to win a copy of The Special Ones, and here we are. I hadn’t heard of Melbourne author Em Bailey before, but apparently creepy and chilling is her specialty. The Special Ones is that indeed. I guess you’d call it a thriller? I seem to be stepping outside my go-to genres quite a bit lately.

The Special Ones starts off mysteriously. I wasn’t sure what kind of world I was in, what kind of time, and the quiet restraint of the characters and their setting made me feel unsure as I tried to work out what was going on. I wasn’t really sure whether I liked the book or not; when my husband asked how I was enjoying it, I said it was “OK, a bit strange.” But its strangeness grabbed me. I wanted to get to that point of seeing the bigger picture, of seeing these characters from the outside and understanding what was going on. I wanted to see these characters succeed, or get their come-uppance, as deserved.

I didn’t love this book and I probably won’t ever read it again. But I definitely found it intriguing, and I didn’t feel that I’d wasted my time by spending some time with it. I guess, in the end, I just keep thinking “Hmmm, that was a bit creepy.” Which, I think, was probably kind of the point.