Why I Went Back
written by James Clammer
published by Andersen Press 2016
288 pages in paperback
read on Kindle via NetGalley
a dark tale of magic, myth and undelivered mail . . .
Summary from Andersen Press website
Aidan needs his bike to deliver all the mail his postman dad’s been hoarding since his mum was sectioned. But his bike’s just been stolen.
In the early morning, Aidan chases after the thieves, hellbent on getting it back. When he reaches the abandoned factory where they’ve stashed his bike, he has moments to grab it and escape. But he finds more than just stolen goods. There’s a mysterious prisoner chained to the floor.
This is the story of why Aidan goes back.
James Clammer says:
A few years ago my daughter’s bike was stolen from outside our house. It was a small, pink, girl’s bike – my daughter was still very young. Who could have taken such a thing, I wondered? How much could they have got for it? Around the same time, the Staffordshire Hoard, recently discovered, went on display at the British Museum. We had also received a spate of junk mail addressed to the house’s previous owner. From those three elements — a stolen bike, a pile of junk mail, and some ancient artefacts — I made this novel.
- Shortlisted for the Grampian Children’s Book Awards 2017.
- Nominated for the Carnegie Medal
- Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award
Any book which a respected publisher says recalls Susan Cooper and Alan Garner has my attention – and when there’s a hint of humour in the strapline, I’m in.
At first glance, it’s a confessional crime thriller for teens and older readers – tense, fast-paced and with a not-entirely-likeable protagonist. I don’t do spoilers – but the way you get to know Aidan from many angles gives real depth. Written from his point of view, we wait eagerly for the ‘crazy, scary ancient magic’ he promises – while the world goes to pot around him.
This takes some time coming, but it’s worth it. All the more disturbing for being unexplained, it has elements of Dark Age mythology and some truly powerful images. And yet, there’s real heart in this tale. Not just the character-based humour and a friendship across class divides, but a strange punch-the-air-and-go-‘yes!’ resolution.
It could almost be the novelisation of a 70s teen folk horror serial if it were not for the contemporary voice. I’d love to see it as a TV show ( I do in my head). It’s not a conventional book. It’s probably hard for booksellers to shelve but if you fancy a darkly funny tale with a whiff of the Anglo-Saxon, give it a go.
NB I have found out nothing about the cover. Sorry.