Mary (Kate Dickie) and son, Fergal (Niall Bruton), harbour a dark secret that has forced them to move from place to place since Fergal was a child. When they settle into a council flat, somewhere in Scotland, Fergal meets the streetwise Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge). The two soon fall in love, despite Mary’s warning that no good will come of the relationship. They are unaware that on their trail is Cathal (James Nesbitt), a man invested with a dark, powerful magic, and Liam (Ciaran McMenamin), an Irish traveller sent to control him.
Outcast is full of dark characters: Mary is grim and hard, single-minded in her actions, always focused on protecting her son; Petronella is older than she should be, forced into looking after her brother through her mother’s alcoholism and consequent neglect; Cathal seethes menace and has no intention of relinquishing his power, no matter the cost. The beast that stalks the estate could be any one of them.
The relationship between Fergal and Petronella has an authentic feel to it. Both have difficulty getting along with their parents, albeit for diametrically opposed reasons: Fergal’s mum is ever-present and overbearing; Petronella’s might as well not exist at all. Fergal’s apparent innocence and Petronella’s street smart ways complement each other, serving to draw the two together even more.
The magic system in Outcast is raw and also feels genuine, but unexpected in the mundane setting. There are symbols of protection, painted in blood, on the walls of a council flat, animal sacrifice preformed casually in back alleys and psychic battles taking place against a backdrop of urban wasteland. This is all reminiscent of the stories of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, the strange sprouting from the everyday.
An enjoyable, dark urban fantasy: 4 out of 5.
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