I first read this book when i was in primary school and it has remained in my bookcase ever since. It is a fascinating albeit harrowing book to read, but i think it is an important book - even more so in the light of current events with recent goings on with 'The devil Boys'.
The story centres around Natalie Barnes, whose family have taken over the local Hotel. Natalie meets the enigmatic and strange creature Tulip Pierce. Tulip quickly draws Natalie to her and the two engage in various games,such as stinking makerel and road of bones, which become progessively more disturbing and dark - along with Tulips behaviour. Natalie tries to distance herself from Tulip, but she finds that she cant, as Tulip prays on her mind constantly.
This then is where we uncover the story of Tulips background. We see a child who has suffered all manner of physical and, it is strongly implied, sexual abuse at the hands of her violent father. There is one disturbing point where there is a story of a child who had drowned and Tulip takes a perverse interest in it, and she even pays visits to the family to the dead girl for her own amusement.
The story is important because Anne Fine, through this book, makes the point that Tulip could be any child at all, but that because of the life she had and abuse she got at home, presumably from an early age, she did the things she did in the book. The book also has lessons which we can learn in cases such as that of 'The Devil Boys' in England, or indeed the case of Mary Bell, since they too are a product of their hellish upbringing. As the cover of the book itself says, No one is born evil. No one.