Book review

Glint by Ann Coburn (2005)

Have you ever had a hunch about something...that turned out to be exactly right? Actually, you have to be quite brave to follow up a hunch, without any real evidence, don't you? Ellie has to be brave in this story.

Her brother, Danny, fails to turn up to his own birthday party. All his friends turn up. And they wait, but as the evening gets later the waiting becomes too difficult. They make their excuses and leave. So then there is just his mother and father, and Ellie. They go out to look for him. They call the police. The waiting goes on, for days. A Liaison Officer spends long shifts in the family home, keeping them informed of the progress of the police enquiry.

There is no progress. The police can't find him. Ellie is beside herself:

'Would you say you're close?'
'Close?' Ellie had girlfriends at school who hated their younger brothers. Sometimes she played along with their moaning, pretending she hated Danny too, but the truth was, she loved him. She had loved him ever since she was first introduced to him, a tiny baby lying in a plastic cot next to her mother's hospital bed. She had taken one look and her love for him had uncurled in her chest and had been growing there ever since. Ellie swallowed hard, forcing back the sob that threatened to leap from her throat. 'Yes,' she said, simply. 'We're close.'

Do you think Ellie has an advantage over the police, because she knows Danny so well? Could she have an extra special insight into her brother's patterns of behaviour that might lead her to him, when the police fail? Well, it really depends on what exactly has befallen Danny, but certainly Ellie starts her own search for Danny at a very different point...

There's a cave on the hillside that stands hard byEllie's house. When they were young it served as a dragon's lair in their games together. Now, in this terrible moment when Danny has gone missing, Ellie returns to the cave. She recalls the tiny black spiral tattoos that Danny tattooed on his own and Ellie's ankle:

'What are they?'
Danny frowned at the tattoos. 'Not sure. I think - maps.'
'Sort of,' said Danny. 'So we remember.'
Ellie looked at him. 'So we remember what?'
Danny lifted his head. His grey eyes were flat and unfocused. Ellie felt a chill climb her spine. 'Danny? So we remember what? Where we've been?'
'No,' said Danny, his voice strangely off-key. 'So we remember where we have to go.'

The spiral tattoo. It certainly starts Ellie off on her search. Does she find her brother? That's for you to read and discover for yourself. Does she find out other things on her quest? Undoubtedly. Does Danny's own spiral tattoo help him in his own difficulty? That's for you to decide. It's quite spooky though. There are two stories in one with this book: the desperate, real life search for Danny, and the children's old dragon hunt game that now takes on a life of its own. I followed both stories with equal interest and enjoyment. But Ellie's search for her brother was the heart-stopping one.

A really successful mix of fantasy and reality. Brilliant. Highly recommended.


What can I read next?

If you enjoy Glint I think you might like to have a look at this excellent story by Margaret Mahy. In this one Laura Chant has to enter a supernatural world to help save her brother from an evil charm. It's also quite spooky:

Or, if you really prefer the dragon story in Glint, perhaps you would enjoy this title by Christopher Paolini:

Alternatively, if you enjoy reading about families facing up to difficult circumstances, you might like this one by Joyce Carol Oates:


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