Written by Marcus Sedgwick
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The Lovereading4Kids comment
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.
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Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
7th April 2011
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