Bone Jack

Sara Crowe

Andersen Press

9781983440054

Apr 2014

paperback

This is one of those dark, atmospheric children’s novels of a type more numerous and popular in the previous century than today, in which tradition and landscape are as significant in the narrative as are the various human characters.
The incidents in the book take place during preparations for the annual Stag Chase, something that the main character, Ash, is busy training for, having been chosen to play the role of the stag boy, the lead runner pursued by a human pack.
Usually, of course, this tradition is pure theatre. But the author cleverly plays her plot (and its themes of suicide and post-traumatic stress) to create a psychological thriller of considerable force.
At sentence level the writing is taut and effective, and the relationship between Ash and his parents extremely well-handled. But a tendency to over-extend scenes makes the book at least 50 pages longer than it need have been.
The book has a really pleasing cover design by Kate Grove and Phil Huntingdon.

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