David Fickling Books, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet
s Matt Lanchester bikes through the countryside surrounding his new hometown, he suddenly finds himself careening down a steep hill. Unable to swerve in time, he crashes into a truck rounding the corner at the bottom of the hill. Convinced he won't survive, he's amazed when he gets up unscathed and doesn't see the truck anywhere. Matt looks up at a tree at the bend and sees his own initials, M.L., carved into it, along with a grave marker. Feeling like he's at the scene of his own death, Matt tears away on his bike, but the discovery haunts him.
inda Newbery, the author of
, fills the pages of her latest book with an eerie sense of mystery. Matt Lanchester discovers that M.L. stands for Martin Lloyd. He also finds out that Martin died in a tragic accident, just the way Matt nearly did at the bottom of that winding hill. When Matt meets Wil Jones, the man the town blames for murdering Martin, the plot thickens. Matt's new so-called friends insist on harassing Jones, who is now a confused and deeply troubled elderly man. As the story unravels, Matt discovers yet another
as Martin's ghost haunts him with a beyond-the-grave message to deliver.
ewbery's story is a chilling one, full of misty Welsh hills and tragedy. It is a tale about a young boy finding his way and struggling to do what he knows is right despite many difficulties. There is an air of magic that makes the story appealing as Newbery blends the themes of loss and growth.
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