Young Adult Literature


by David Almond

As in Kit's Wilderness (2000) and The Fire-Eaters (2004, both Delacorte), Almond revisits the English north country of his youth to spin this metaphysical tale of boys in conflict. Davie and his friend Geordie are altar boys, but are beginning to doubt the value of their long-held religious beliefs. They live in fear of the bullying Mouldy, a hulking, drunken lout from a neighboring village whom they're sure is out to kill them. Enter Stephen, a slightly older boy whose father is dead, whose mother is mad, and who was reputedly kicked out of priestly training for some kind of trouble related to devil worship and performing a Black Mass. A talented sculptor, he proceeds to scare Davie silly with his talk of creating life, of creating, in fact, a monster that will wreak revenge on Mouldy. Davie sees Stephen's clay figures move. Is it hypnotism, faith, or madness? Whatever, their monster is eventually made real. Mouldy may have been killed by it in a fall from a cliff, and Davie wrestles with his guilt until he ultimately destroys it. This is a Catholic ghost story, a sort of Secret Life of Boys with which many readers, should they persevere through the heavily nuanced language, will identify. While the look of the book is deceptively simple, the weighty content of the plot and its accompanying themes are chilling, indeed.–Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
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