White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick

White Crow

Written by Marcus Sedgwick

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Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2011

Packed full of suspense, this is a tingling and chilling Gothic thriller in which nothing can quite be taken for granted. Rebecca is forced to abandon her bustling life in London for the unfamiliar village of Winterfold. So different from home, she finds it lonely and claustrophobic. When she meets Ferelith things begin to change and Rebecca soon finds herself caught up in a terrifying mystery from which there seems to be no escape. Marcus Sedgwick weaves several story strands together in this macabre tale.


White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick

It's summer. Rebecca is an unwilling visitor to Winterfold - taken from the buzz of London and her friends and what she thinks is the start of a promising romance. Ferelith already lives in Winterfold - it's a place that doesn't like to let you go, and she knows it inside out - the beach, the crumbling cliff paths, the village streets, the woods, the deserted churches and ruined graveyards, year by year being swallowed by the sea. Against her better judgement, Rebecca and Ferelith become friends, and during that long, hot, claustrophobic summer they discover more about each other and about Winterfold than either of them really want to, uncovering frightening secrets that would be best left long forgotten. Interwoven with Rebecca and Ferelith's stories is that of the seventeenth century Rector and Dr Barrieux, master of Winterfold Hall, whose bizarre and bloody experiments into the after-life might make angels weep, and the devil crow.


Described as a modern gothic thriller, complete with angels and devils, it’s a tale of two girls and their friendship in a long, hot, tense summer, but it is also interwoven with a 17th century tale of bizarre experiments into the afterlife. Perfect for fans of the The Twilight series but much more sinister and impeccably written!It is an original and exceptional novel of tragedy, angels, devils and friendship. Fiona Noble, THE BOOKSELLER

Review of ‘White Crow’ by Books for Keeps [4 stars]

Rebecca Case’s father is an unhappy soul. His wife has died, though initially the reader doesn’t know how. He has a fractious relationship with his 16-year-old daughter. He is a former policeman who was falsely accused of murdering a girl. He doesn’t know whether his daughter believes in his innocence.

He decides that he and Rebecca should leave London, fraught with memories, and set up home in a sleepy seaside town called Winterfold. Rebecca has left behind everything, including her boyfriend, and feels lonely in the country. She meets a girl named Ferelith who lives with a misfit band of lodgers in an ancient rectory and who is so academically gifted that she left school two years earlier, having taken A levels at the age of 14!

Rebecca and Ferelith strike up a passionate yet uneasy friendship. Ferelith takes Rebecca to inspect Winterfold Hall, an ancient derelict mansion. Coastal erosion means that many of the Winterfold buildings are at risk of being swallowed by the sea. It seems that a doctor conducted spiritualist experiments at the hall, trying to prove that there is life after death. Interspersed in the contemporary narrative are diary entries made by a priest in the late eighteenth century. For some bizarre reason, belief in the afterlife is linked with belief in the existence of white crows.

This book is a fairly daring mixture of gothic horror and existential speculation. Does God exist? If so, what are the consequences? If not, what then? As is typical of Sedgwick’s work, what might have been a simple tale of friendship between two girls turns out to draw the reader into more profound reflections about the nature of human life and death. The act of suicide casts a shadow over the book. The narrative is fast paced and dark. The characterization of the two protagonists is powerful with one slight reservation. Ferelith could be seen as a prototypical visionary figure. This is a book whose serious subject matter suggests that it be read more than once.

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


272 pages
Interest Age: From 12


Marcus Sedgwick
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Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) an imprint of Orion Publishing Co

Publication date

1st July 2010




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