Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick
  

Dark Horse

Written by Marcus Sedgwick

11+ readers   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Compelling and gripping, beautifully crafted with a narrative that will stick in your mind long after you’ve finished. It’s a powerful story of magic and betrayal in a distant past whilst at the same time has a timeless ingredient to have broad appeal. If you’ve enjoyed Tolkien then you’ll love Sedgwick’s originality too.

Synopsis

Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick

A boy destined to lead his clan; a girl raised by wolves; a stranger with a sealed box. These are the elements of this powerful novel, set on a rocky northern coast in a distant time, in a small community who live in dread of the coming of the legendary warrior tribe, the Dark Horse. Told in part by the boy, Sigurd, himself, it is a dark and dangerous story of conflict and betrayal. With its strong sense of time and place and the magic of a primitive people, THE DARK HORSE again confirms the exceptional talent of Marcus Sedgwick.

Reviews

'imaginative and gripping'

Shortlisted for both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Childrens Fiction Award, Marcus Sedgwick's novel has been compared to those of Alan Garner, and does not disappoint. Set in an unspecified time and place, the book tells of a time in the lifespan of the Storn, a tribe of fishermen and farmers who eke out a existence close to the shores of a great sea. The short chapters alternate between past, in the voice of Sigurd, and present, with the past episodes serving to explain the origins of Mouse, the girl child who understands what the animals and birds say and who is possessed of a powerful magic that no one quite understands. It is Mouse who first discovers the magical box on the shoreline as she and Sigurd, her adoptive brother, look for sea cabbage to supplement their meagre diet. Horn, the tribal Lawspeaker, forces Mouse to open the box as both he and Gudrun, the Spellmaker have failed in all their attempts to prise it open. When she does open it, easily and without force, it is seen to be empty, but only Mouse knows that a very powerful presence has been loosed. Sigurd, injured by a mysterious stampede of black horses, is brought back to the brochs by Ragnald, a tall stranger with white hair and black palms to his hands who says he is an entertainer and who claims the strange box is his. His arrival presages the downfall of the Storn and the terrifying truth of Mouses origins. The prose is sparse but rich. Marcus Sedgwick has brought off a tale that is compelling and shocking, a real page turner. Ages 8-11 (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Marcus Sedgwick

One of the World Book Day 2015 Authors Marcus was our Guest Editor in July 2010. Click here to see all his selections.

Marcus began to write seriously in 1994, and his first book, Floodland, was published by Orion in 2000, and won the Branford-Boase award for best debut children's novel. Witch Hill followed in 2001, and was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award.

The Kiss of Death was published in paperback in April 2009, and picked up a thread from his highly acclaimed My Swordhand is Singing (winner of the 2007 Booktrust Teenage Book Award). In between came what Marcus calls “my big one - a project I've been working on for so long my head hurts.” – Blood Red Snow White, which was first published to considerable acclaim in 2007.

2009 saw Marcus turn his attention to books for younger readers with the launch of a humorous new series: The Raven Mysteries, narrated by a grumpy raven, Edgar. Titles are Flood and Fang, Ghosts and Gadgets and Lunatics and Luck. The sixth book in the series, Creepy Caves, will be published in paperback in February 2015.

Marcus Sedgwick won the Branford Boase Award in 2001 with his debut novel, FLOODLAND. In 2007 MY SWORDHAND IS SINGING won the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and in 2011 LUNATICS AND LUCK won a Blue Peter Book Award. Marcus has been shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal six times. Marcus lives in Taninges, France.

In his spare time, he is also a stone carver and wood engraver and illustrates all his novels! Finally Marcus is also a drummer, and at the moment he plays in two bands: visit www.garrett-music.tv, and www.internationalbandofmystery.com to find out more.

Q&A with Marcus Sedgwick

Many of your novels are inspired by history and by myth and legend - have these areas always been a fascination of yours since childhood and if so how did this passion come about?

I love music, both listening to it and playing it (I'm a drummer). A day without music is not a proper day... I also love travel and try to travel as much as I can manage.

It was a single line, the first line in the book in fact. I'd had it for ages but didn't know where I was going to use it until the character of Edgar came along: "I suspect I may have fleas again".

Absolutely, and it was great fun. After writing a few hardcore goth books, it was great to let my hair down with these stories. And it gave me fresh impetus to go back to the next YA novel, Revolver, with renewed determination to be gloomy!

I write at the weekends, and mostly in the study in my loft, but also sometimes I travel to write - eg much of Revolver was written on trips to Sweden.

I started to write as a teenager a bit, but properly when I was in my mid-twenties. It took a few years to think it might actually happen!

The most important thing is to know your market! Who do you think your book is going to be read by? What else is out there that's like it? Are you writing something that will sell?

It varies from book to book but it's not a chore as I love to do research. It's easier than actually writing the things! For Revolver, the research spanned about 16 months, of little trips here and there and lots and lots of reading!

What was your inspiration for Revolver ?

Finding an empty shell casing on the pavement in St Petersburg. It was a long way from there to the finished book but that was the start of it.

What was your favourite book as a teenager?

Without question, the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake.

If you got into Doctor Who’s tardis, where (or when) would you go?
Great question, impossible to answer. So many amazing things to go and see – the building of the pyramids, a Viking boat putting out to sea, Man Utd winning the European Championship in 1968…

Who would you choose to be if you could be a celebrity for the day?

Matt Bellamy on any day with a gig.

If you were invisible for a day what would you do?

I’m invisible most days, so nothing much would change.

1 - I have an embarrassing middle name, but I'm not going to tell you what it is
2 - I am learning Swedish
3 - As well as playing the drums, I play bass guitar
4 - My grandfather invented the hydraulic tipper truck
5 - I have a pet raven called Edgar, though he doesn’t say much, eat much, or indeed, move much. There’s a possibility that he’s stuffed, I guess.
6 - I’m extraordinarily sleepy right now.
7 - I represented England (Juniors) at Fencing.
8 - I totally love football.
9 - I'm allergic to red peppers
10 - I believe there is only one radio or TV station worth listening to: Radio 3.

Author photo © Kate Christer

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Book Info

Format

Paperback (b Format)
192 pages
Interest Age: From 9

Author

Marcus Sedgwick
More books by Marcus Sedgwick

Author's Website

www.marcussedgwick.com/

Author's Facebook Latest

Publisher

Orion Publishing Co

Publication date

15th May 2003

ISBN

9781858818849

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