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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 6 June 2021

"Kit's Wilderness" by David Almond

 Kit's family has returned to the ex-mining community to look after his grandad, an ex-miner. Kit, 13, is a good pupil at his new school, swiftly earning the nickname 'Mr Watson'. But he is mystically connected with local bad boy Askew: their names are both on a memorial commemorating boy miners who were killed in a pit disaster long ago. Another friend, Allie, a wannabe actress, introduces Kit to the Game of Death, a 'dare' game played  in Askew's den in a piece of waste land known as the Wilderness. Both Kit and Askew can see ghosts and when Askew goes missing, Kit knows he has to find him even if it means risking his life and missing Allie's starring performance in the school's production of the Ice Queen.

The novel is heavily mythic with its cast of beautifully three-dimensional stock characters (the hero, the death force, the life force, and the worm), its repetition of key phrases, its descriptions of winter and the emphasis on the redemptive power of story-telling yet it is hugely realistic with its detailed reporting of the minutiae of school life and its wonderful use of dialect. I particularly loved the way in which the response to "Eh?" is invariably "Eh? Eh?

It is a beautifully crafted and written powerful exploration of death.

Great moments:

  • "You have come into this ancient place to play the game called Death." (1.1)
  • "Our ancestors were like that ... Stunted life, pain, then death." (1.3)
  • "The evidence of the pit was everywhere - depressions in the gardens, jagged cracks in the roadways and in the house walls. Lamp posts and telegraph poles were twisted and skewed." (1.3)
  • "That's the great thing you can say about everything - it'll pass." (2.1)

June 2021; 231 pages

This review was written by

the author of Motherdarling 

and The Kids of God

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