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The Stuff of Nightmares

Michael Morpurgo
Oct 2007
As much as Kyle’s physical journey is curtailed within “The Stuff of Nightmares”, he nonetheless follows a definite path, one that leads from inexperience through various manifestations of uncertainty to an eventual awareness and understanding that culminates with him unencumbered and able to lead his life again. Complex and convincing character development of this type constitutes one of Malorie Blackman’s major strengths as an author.

Following the separation of his mother and father, Kyle has become socially withdrawn. Embarking upon a class trip, the train that Kyle and his peers are on is de-railed and hangs precariously between safety and danger, life and death, for all those on board.

One of the few individuals conscious on the train, Kyle finds that he is able to experience at first hand the dreams – and thereby the fears, guilt and neuroses – that his fellow passengers are subject to…

Large questions regarding, faith, belief, reality, truth, preordination and psych-kinesis are stimulated and are constantly brought to the fore as the narrative pace races through a total of thirteen nightmares told in a frame-setting.

Blackman depicts horror at its most chilling and efficacious through drawing the shades of darkness from sources identifiable to the everyman. The personal base to several of the dream described makes this a brave work, its considered nature and seriousness of intent ensuring it is, at once, in equal parts worthwhile.

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