The Amnesia Clinic by James Scudamore is a compulsively readable novel about the seductiveness of storytelling. Set in Ecuador, Scudamore’s lively yet lyrical debut is narrated by ex-pat Anti: English, sunburnt, straightforward – a seemingly uncomplicated shadow of Fabian, his South American best friend. ‘Words can be actions too’ argues parentless Fabian, whose need to answer grief with poetic flights of fancy has a grounded and psychologically persuasive provenance. The necessity and the treacherousness of escapism movingly compete as the boys head south in search of a clinic for missing people that both know, deep down, they have invented. Both his characters and the electrifying manner in which Scudamore writes about Ecuador demonstrate the appeal as well as the danger of any fabulist’s capacity for wonder.