Bloomsbury, £9.99stg

Helen Cross' debut is a darkly brooding tale of what happens when two teenage girls join forces one sultry summer in 1980s Yorkshire. Mona, the fifteen-year-old narrator, is a regular drinker and would-be criminal, addicted to fruit machines, obsessed with her weight and determined not to fit in with her sloppy, decidedly non-nuclear family. She meets her match in upper-class Tamsin, with her don't-carish attitude, large house, perfect breasts, rowing parents and dead older sister.

Leaving her pub home, Mona moves into Tamsin's large country residence where, house-sitting together, the two sleep all day and disco-dance all night, paint the windows pink, eat After Eight sandwiches and religiously pour bleach over all leftovers so they will not be tempted to eat them.

In the background, the search for a missing local girl and her possible murderer, collections for the striking miners and the threat of nuclear war all add to the feeling of a world verging on insanity.

Like a storm brewing, the girls' relationship develops into a determined but dangerous love-hate romance. The two begin to exclude everything beyond the life they have created for themselves, leading – much like in the film 'Heavenly Creatures' – to an act of violence that the building electrical atmosphere almost demands.

'My Summer of Love' shocks and disturbs, but it will also make you laugh out loud. In the end though it is the sheer quality of Cross' language that draws you in and keeps you hooked. Her descriptions leave indelible images in the reader's mind – "at the bottom of the great fan of stairs, like an oily puddle of black paint, was a baby grand piano"; "Her words were like tinfoil: they shone and they covered things up." – boldly announcing a remarkable new talent.

Cristín Leach