The Kingdom by the Sea

kingdomIt’s 1940-something in the north east of England. A bomb drops and a world – Harry’s world – implodes. He makes it to the safety of the air-raid shelter but his home is flattened.  His parents are nowhere to be found, too slow to make it up the garden path.  His pet rabbits are dead and, except Cousin Elsie, who is ‘more awful than death itself’, he has no-one.  So, in the dead of night, he steps through the debris and decides to disappear, to just go away.

This is a gripping, dramatic story. It follows Harry and his dog Don as they head northwards, aimlessly at first and then ‘like a pilgrim’ towards Lindisfarne. There are times of real desperation when Harry is lonely, hungry, and afraid but Westall captures a Boys Own spirit of adventure and daring-do. There is a romance and a boyish excitement to the scenes where Harry sleeps under the stars stuffing his face with vinegar-smothered chips, or when he discovers a shelter with an open door, which reveals a bed, candles and a fire.    Continue reading

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Reading Log (2015): Part Three

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 

monstercallsWords – at least the words I am capable of writing – can’t do justice to this extraordinary book. Famously, the idea for the book came from the late Siobhan Dowd, developed and brought to fruition by Patrick Ness.  It’s a deeply moving and imaginative story about Connor, who is visited by a monster as his mother is horrifically weakened by illness.

It’s the kind of book you read wide-eyed and open-mouthed, turning each page with a sense of wonder, anticipation and dread – knowing you are reading something masterful, something that is permanently changing the wiring in your brain. The ending left me reeling; it had almost a physical effect, the equivalent of a literary jab to the solar plexus.  A stunning book.    Continue reading