Reader Reviewed Tall Tales from Pitch End by Nigel McDowell

Tall Tales from Pitch End

Written by Nigel McDowell

11+ readers   
Download an extract Share this book

The Lovereading4Kids comment

This is a great, imaginative debut from a new Irish author. A rich gothic tale of friendship, loss, rebellion and adventure with a teen hero determined to save his hometown from destruction.

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Tall Tales from Pitch End a small number of our readers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'the plot was ingenious and original...I liked the time era the book was set in, and overall thought the book was imaginative, interesting, and I will be recommending it to my friends!'

Scroll down to read more reviews...


Tall Tales from Pitch End by Nigel McDowell

Ruled by the Elders, policed by an unforgiving battalion of Enforcers and watched by hundreds of clockwork Sentries, Pitch End is a town where everybody knows their place. Soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Bruno Atlas still mourns the death of his Rebel father ten years ago, and treasures the book of stories he secretly uncovered: the Tall Tales from Pitch End. After discovering a chilling plot planned by the Elders, Bruno flees, escaping to the mountains where a bunch of disparate young Rebels are planning a final attack on Pitch End. With secrets and betrayal lying around every corner, Bruno will find himself fighting not only for his life, but the life of the town.


Emer O'Brien The whole world in which this book is set is enchanting and absorbing. It's really easy to imagine and I just fell in love with it from page one. This book started really well, and I was worried that the ending was going to be tame compared to the rest of it, but it didn't disappoint. It kept up the steam until the last page. Click here to read the full review

Bobby Lewis, age 11 absolutely, fabulously, amazingly, amazing. Click here to read the full review

Charlotte Crisp, age 12 This is the perfect story for anyone with an appetite for mystery and suspense. Click here to read the full review

Alice D'Angelo Not just another fantasy tale, Tall Tales from Pitch End caught my attention, and with so many turns in the plot and secrets to uncover it’s the sort of book you read again; to find the clues you’ve missed. I loved reading it! Click here to read the full review

Eimear McWilliams, age 15 I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastical, strange tale. Click here to read the full review

Mary Murphy age 12 a most wonderful tale, part fairy tale and part adventure..Click here to read the full review

Emily Setchell, age 13 the plot was ingenious and original...I liked the time era the book was set in, and overall thought the book was imaginative, interesting, and I will be recommending it to my friends! Click here to read the full review

Ayesha Afghan a story full of secrets and mystery, that leaves the reader hungry for more. Click here to read the full review

Delilah Acworth, age 13 If you like real adventure and a true hero for a main character though, then read it Click here to read the full review

About the Author

Nigel McDowell

Nigel grew up in County Fermanagh, rural Northern Ireland, and as a child spent most of his time battling boredom, looking for adventure - crawling through ditches, climbing trees, devising games to play with his brother and sister, and reading. His favourite book as a child was The Witches by Roald Dahl.

After graduating with a degree in English he spent almost two years living and working in Australia and New Zealand. With him he took a small notebook containing notes about a boy called "Bruno Atlas", and a seaside town called "Pitch End". When he returned to Ireland after his travels, one notebook had multiplied into many, and eventually his notes for Tall Tales from Pitch End filled a large cardboard box... Tall Tales from Pitch End was Nigel's first novel, followed up by The Black North.

Nigel died in 2016, aged thirty-four, and his final novel, The House of Mountfathom, will be published by Hot Key Books in 2017.

Q & A with Nigel

What inspires your writing? Difficult question to answer - I’m not sure there is such a thing as “inspiration”. Writing feels closer to something I must do, rather than something I feel inspired to do. And it’s hard work. Though when I find it difficult to write, what keeps me going is the work of great writers. Seeing what can be achieved with smart storytelling, language that makes me see the world anew, and being swept away by an author’s imagination - that’s what makes me pick up the pen again and persist. Perhaps that’s where “inspiration” comes into things - finding something to aim for, wanting to do better, and sticking at it!

What has been the most exciting moment of your career so far? Honestly, every single step of the publication process has been something to be excited about - receiving such wonderful editorial feedback, seeing the progression of the stunning cover art, receiving the first proofs...all these things and countless others are memories I’ll always treasure. Chief of all though was being accepted by Hot Key Books for publication, and being able to share such news with my partner, family and friends - the best moment, the best day.

How did you first become an author & What was your earliest career aspiration? Sounds so very corny and precocious, but since childhood I wanted to be a writer; since I knew that books were written and didn’t just appear. I can remember being eight and completing a project in Primary School to investigate which famous people we shared birthdays with. As soon as I discovered that Charles Dickens was also born on the seventh of February, that was it: ‘My name is Nigel, and when I grow up I want to be an author.’

What are you reading right now? I tend always to have a few too many books on the go at once - so at the moment (for the commute) I haveThe Story of the Night by Colm Toibin, and for these cold winter nights I love a good ghost story, so on the bedside I have Dolly by Susan Hill. Another love: the ever-present totter of books on fairytale and folklore, including Angela Carter’s Burning Your Boats and WB Yeats’ collection, Fairy & Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry - both invaluable to me, never failing to inspire!

What advice would you give to budding writers? Read as much and as widely as you possibly can - anything at all, forgetting things like genre or age-range, and whether best-seller or obscure translation, just read. Live and experience as much as you can...and finally, write. Write only what you want. What you can write and what you need to write. And keep at it!

What was your favourite childhood book? The Witches by Roald Dahl. I loved my copy to tatters and - very shameful admission coming up - I used write my own stories inside the book, in blue biro, between the lines of print. I loved opening the book and seeing something I’d made up flowing alongside Roald Dahl’s words, my stories tucked close to his. (Though I of course do not condone book vandalism of any kind).

Where is your favourite place to write? On (or in) bed. I can’t do desks.

How do you read - print, digitally or both? I swore I’d never want to read a book except in print, then I won a Kindle in a raffle and had no choice, and then discovered I loved reading on it! Then it got stolen, so now I’m back to print...until I buy another Kindle.

Who do you most admire? My partner, a Zoologist, who encourages me to look more closely and carefully at this world; who finds perfect beauty in all things plant and animal, and who perseveres tirelessly in trying to enthuse me about it all.

Are there any books you wish you had written? Not really - the books I love most are books I could never, ever have written, like Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, or John McGahern’s The Dark. Though there are individual ideas I wish I’d come up with: the alethiometer in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy; the subtle knife in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy; the whole concept of “demons” in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy...okay, perhaps I wish I’d written His Dark Materials.

More books by this author

Loading similar books...

Other Formats

Book Info


384 pages
Interest Age: From 13 to 15 years


Nigel McDowell
More books by Nigel McDowell

Author's Website


Hot Key Books

Publication date

6th June 2013




Publisher Profile

Hot Key Books is an imprint of Hot Key

logo Hot Key Books, a division of Bonnier Publishing, publish stand out, quality fiction, for 9 – 19 year olds, print and digital that people like to talk about. If you are looking for something a little bit different from your books, something a little bit special then Hot Key Books may well have just what you want.

Publisher's Website

Publisher's Blog

Lovereading4kids is great, we get books really early never late. We love to read and review, and think you would like it too. The excitement

Jasmine Harris-Hart, age 12

I love Lovereading4kids because I get an opportunity to put my opinion forward and to try new books

Elosie Clarkson – age 11

Lovereading is just a convenient way to find new books and hear others opinions on them.

Sarah Murray – age 15

It gives me a chance to read types of books that I would not normally try, and it motivates me to read every night to finish it!

Alice Horncastle, age 14

It is fantastic, you get to read lots of books and you always find something new and amazing in them.

Erica Motoc, age 7

At @HHSHaringey we love @lovereading4kids because our pupils can practice reviewing & get free upcoming books before anyone else!

Helen Swinyard – Heartlands High

We love Lovereading4kids because it promotes reading choices, new authors and a sense of community for children of all ages!

Rachel Bridgeman

I have told all my friends, family & teachers to see for themselves just how great the site is. Without fail, they are hugely impressed.

Alexander Boxall – age 11

Lovereading 4 schools