Burdened with chaotic superpowers, Cordelia discovers she’s not alone; there are others. Now she only has one secret to keep… that man she killed.
The Unlikely League is a modern-day hero story for Generation Y. Set in London in the 2010s, the novel uses dark humour but also has a warm Dickensian heart, evoking the lives of a group of troubled and supernaturally ‘gifted’ young people in a city being transformed by gentrification in the midst of a recession. While writing it I had in mind Donna Tartt’s The Secret History; it is also a coming-of-age story in the style of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, and takes inspiration from magical realist novels such as Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.
Cordelia ‘Dee’ Maddox is a disappointment. Socially inept and academically floundering, she is pitied and despised by everyone, especially her famous artist mother. But there is one remarkable thing about Dee, which she keeps a secret from everyone: her supernatural powers. Uncontrollable and poorly-timed, these powers lead her to cause accidental chaos and destruction just by walking into a room. After a string of increasingly embarrassing disasters, Dee’s mother sends her away to boarding school, where she lives out her teenage years as a social pariah, trying not to set anyone’s hair on fire. Dee’s yearning for acceptance and normality in the midst of anarchy is the driving force of the novel.
Moving to London in her twenties, Dee discovers she’s not alone: there are others. She is thrown into the quirky and dangerous world of the self-styled ‘League’, a group of deadbeats living together in a warehouse in Hackney Wick. Invisibility, teleportation, vague visions of the future, stealing strangers’ emotions: the League could use their powers for good, but instead they commit petty crimes and throw wild parties. When a squatter falls to his death in mysterious circumstances, and the League begin to uncover what they believe is a conspiracy involving corrupt property developers, they finally find something to stand for: vigilante justice. But Dee knows they’ve got it all wrong, because she was there the night of the man’s death…
The League are the only real family Dee has ever had. Will she tell the truth and be cast out yet again, or allow them to continue their misguided and increasingly violent quest for revenge?