Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (30 Jan 2014)
The House on the Hill has been abandoned for as long as James can remember. So when he discovers Webster, a drifter, hiding there, he’s instantly curious about the story behind the homeless man. What is he running from? Afflicted by a dark curse, Webster is no longer who he used to be. But there is said to be a cure and it might just be that by helping Webster, James will find some solace of his own. Together they embark on a journey, not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined…
A gripping and haunting story about loss and hope, perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and David Almond.
From the moment they meet in the House on the Hill, James and Webster are accepting of each other. Webster is physically injured and James himself has bruising. Webster protects James from an incident in the house although it’s not clear as the story continues, who is protecting who.
They both have their own inner demons. Both are scarred from experiences. Add to that the curse that Webster carries, their quest for healing takes them down some very strange paths.
The travellers running the fair (located on the village green) have a central part to play in the plot. The scenes involving the mother are quite spellbinding and spooky.
At one point I couldn’t make up my mind whether Webster’s curse was a result of a troubled mind. Having served in Iraq, there is one experience that haunts his dreams. As the deadline draws closer, I needed to turn those pages to find out the truth!
I enjoyed the figurative language. For example in my proof copy, in St Hubert’s searching for the key:
“And, for a moment, there was nothing but grace as the vicar smiled, and the pews ticked, and the sunlight moved noiselessly over the stone walls.”
I loved this sentence:
“The engine noise caught between the gaps in his bones and made him shudder.”
With 13 year old James on the run, this is perfect for leading up to what happens next.
Finding acceptance, coming to terms with and understanding for each of them comes through sacrifice, grief, honesty and love. A long road to travel (not in time, their quest starts on 8th June and ends 3rd July) but in the quest for healing which they ultimately find by looking into ‘the dark inside’ of themselves to reach the end. A very poignant story.
Watch/listen the author read the first chapter on YouTube here.
I would like to thank the publishers for providing an uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review.