Kit has just moved to Stoneygate with his family, to live with his ageing grandfather who is gradually succumbing to Alzheimer's Disease.
Stoneygate is an insular place, scarred by its mining history - by the danger and death it has brought them.
Where the coal mine used to be there is now a wilderness. Here Kit meets Askew, a surly and threatening figure who masterminds the game called Death, a frightening ritual of hypnotism; and Kit makes friends with Allie, the clever school troublemaker.
As Kit struggles to adjust to his new life and the gradual failing of his beloved grandfather, these two friendships pull him towards a terrifying resolution.
Haunted by ghosts of the past, Kit must confront death and - ultimately - life. A stunning novel from the author of the modern children's classic Skellig - winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Book Award.
David Almond is also winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen award.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 240 pages
- Publisher: Hachette Children's Group
- Publication Date: 17/01/2008
- Category: General
- ISBN: 9780340944967
- EPUB from £4.49
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Review by sirfurboy
This story is beautifully written. David Almond's use of language, his characterisations, and his blend of magic and a hard realism rooted in rugged and historic Northumbria gives a reading experience unlike any other and second to none.Kit moves to Stonygate, where his family hail from, and quickly feels integrated with the local community. A new boy, but an insider - and this is particularly recognised by local troublemaker, John Askew, who strikes up an unlikely - and initially an uneasy - friendship.Askew encourages Kit to play a game called Death. A curious game of the type that people sometimes play to scare themselves, but this game is more intense. Some people cheat at the game, but some people - including Askew and Kit, see something very real and a touch chilling. There are ghosts of people lost in a pit disaster, and another strange ghost too. Kit sees the ghosts and he discovers his grandfather has too.But his grandfather is not well, and increasingly suffers from senior moments, or being "off with the fairies". Askew also lands himself in trouble (which he is well used to) and then vanishes. There are so many threads in this story that weave together to make something that is very beautiful. Kit struggles and grows and learns. There is friendship and love and courage here, and themes of life and death all blended in a manner that is very typical of David Almond, but pretty much without parallel among other children's/young adult's authors.This story works on many levels, and even though its unlikely anyone will understand all the themes the Author intended for this work, it is likely that anyone will understand some and enjoy it. However, I have to add a warning that I always write for David Almond's books: These are not heavy plot driven adventure stories. These are quieter and more reflective works. Not everyone will enjoy them, although I wish they would! But as long as you are not looking for the next Alex Rider adventure. As long as you are happy to read a story that is ultimately about a boy, Kit, and not about saving the world from alien invasion - this book is one I would thoroughly recommend.