June 2014 Debut of the Month A chilling, time-slip story with a strong sense of the past and full of magic and mystery. Summoned out of her life of poverty after her mother’s death, Annie finds she has the extraordinary ability to slip back into the past whenever she touches one of the images of a serpent which fill the grand house in which she is working. Her mistress orders her to follow the serpents back in time to a leper hospital to steal a cure for all the diseases in the world from a sinister doctor who works there. Annie needs great courage to fulfil the mission and has no assurance that the sinister doctor’s cures will work. ~ Julia Eccleshare
As I got into the Hall grounds, the sick, dizzy feeling came over me again, as if I was
about to fall over. Was that a whispering in my ears? Was someone saying my name?
Twelve-year-old Annie is invited to Hexer Hall to work as a servant for the mysterious Lady Hexer. Carvings of snakes are everywhere and when Annie touches one, she travels back in time to when the Hall was a leper hospital, run by a sinister doctor with a collection of terrifying serpents. Annie never wants to return, but Lady Hexer demands she finds a way to steal the doctor’s book of magical cures. She promises it will rid the world of disease, including tuberculosis, which killed Annie’s mother.
Summoning all her courage, Annie travels back in time again...
Annie, the central character, suffers from alopecia, a condition the author also had. At primary school Davenport starting to notice her hair falling out, and, by aged 8 she had
significant hair loss and alopecia was diagnosed. Davenport suffered with the condition well in to her 30s, it was only after the birth of her first son that her hair started to return. Davenport wanted to write about a character suffering from alopecia, and when she discovered in her research that hair loss was a symptom of leprosy it all seemed to fall in to place. She explains “A long time ago, writers realised that there was no reason why the hero of a story shouldn’t look or act different to the norm, but I’ve never found another book where the main character has lost her hair.”
Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert review, some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
Both the Victorian present of Annie's diary and the medieval past are strongly evoked. Amanda Craig
...a brilliant book! Jackie Kay MBE, poet and novelist
|Publication date:||5th June 2014|
|Suitable for:||11+ readers, 9+ readers|
|Recommendations:||Debuts of the Month, eBooks|
|Other Categories:||Reviewed by Children|
Bea’s first novel The Serpent House was written during her Creative Writing PhD at Newcastle University. Her tutors were Jackie Kay, the award-winning poet and writer, and Professor Kim Reynolds, an internationally-renowned expert in children’s literature. In its early, unpublished form, The Serpent House was shortlisted for The Times/Chicken House award. The Misper was longlisted in a Mslexia Writing for Children competition and is published by The Conrad Press. Bea has also written two crime novels for adults, In Too Deep and This Little Piggy, and teaches journalism and creative writing. She lives near Berwick-upon-Tweed ...More About Bea Davenport