This imaginative, beautifully written fantasy, set around Aylesbury, centres on Rob, who has to find a supernatural solution to his sister’s coma.
Rob’s sister Chloe has been in a coma for the last three months, after falling from her horse. The doctors cannot explain her condition and nobody knows whether or not she’s going to survive. One day, Rob gets caught up in a ritual in Aylesbury and, in a wonderfully vivid sequence, pulls a man, Vetch, from the river. Vetch calls himself a poet, can shapeshift and has characteristics of Taliesin. Rob is an artist and has taken a summer job drawing plans for an archaeological site. They are digging an ancient wooden henge from the mud the darkhenge. Vetch convinces Rob that the darkhenge is the key to bringing Chloe back.
Rob is a wonderful central character, convincingly flawed but with appealing warmth and bravery. The darkhenge a wooden Stonehenge slowly emerging from the mud is a memorable and haunting image, especially when animals release themselves from the earth. The book has two clear halves the first, in Aylesbury, the second when Vetch and Rob go through the darkhenge to the other world Chloe has created. The first section is very gripping, and I particularly liked the mix of fantasy and reality. The second half struggles to make the mythic world as interesting as shapeshifters in the middle of Aylesbury. This is partly because the action shifts from Rob to Chloe, who has the real journey to make in the second part, and who isn’t quite as interesting as Rob. The central theme of the book, however, the way brothers and sisters can misunderstand and therefore hurt each other, is powerfully and convincingly portrayed.
The whole novel is as beautifully written as you’d expect from Catherine Fisher, with her wonderful, fresh use of language. Altogether, it is a gripping, original adventure with an unforgettable setting which I am sure all readers will thoroughly enjoy.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.