Book review

Darkhenge by Catherine Fisher (2005)

Do you have a brother or sister? If you have, I think you must have experienced at least a twinge of jealousy at some time or other.

Rob has a little sister. Chloe. He isn't jealous of her though. He's much too busy doing his drawings and paintings. He's getting his portfolio ready for art college. He likes to draw the landscape around him, in Avebury, close to the great stone circle. It is an ancient and mysterious place, more than four thousand years old. And there is always more to discover in Avebury. Rob gets himself a job drawing the finds for an archaeological dig.

Actually, there is a reason why Rob is burying himself deeper and deeper in his drawing...there's something he can't face up to in real life. And nor can his mother and father. Rob's family is breaking up, quietly and agonisingly drifting apart.Rob's sister, Chloe, has had a riding accident, and she lies in a coma in hospital.

'And since then,' Vetch murmured, his voice husky, 'she has lain between waking and sleeping, between life and death. She has fallen into Annwn. The Unworld.'
Rob pulled away. The trees were crackling. An electric tingle seemed to be crawling all over his nerves and scalp. Vetch stepped after him, close up. 'And I know how that makes you feel, all your weary hours, your dreams, the long silences in the house, the unspoken grief like a weight no one can take from you.'
They looked at each other. 'No,' Rob said tightly. 'No you don't.'

And so who is Vetch, exactly,that he can know so much about Chloe? Where does he come from? And has he come to help Rob in his distress? Can he help Chloe?

Does Chloe want to be helped? Maybe she is perfectly happy where she is, out from under Rob's shadow at last:

She had been trying not to think of him. Now he came surging into her mind, his face, his tallness, the way the girls at school looked at him and giggled if he spoke to them, the way the teachers said Rob's sister. Rob's little sister.
Rob the golden boy. Rob, who never got the blame for anything, whom they treated like an adult, whose talent always had to come first.
Above all, his wretched paintings.

Ah! So there's the jealousy, festering in Chloe's heart. It's a complex emotion, though, jealousy. Both Chloe and Rob need help to understand each other. And that still might not be enough to tempt Chloe out from the Unworld...

Another sensational story of ancient magic and human frailty, from Catherine Fisher. Highly recommended!

What can I read next?

If you enjoy Darkhenge, have a look at the Snow-Walker trilogy also by Catherine Fisher. I think you'll love it:

If you can read a whole book while holding your breath, you should have a look at this tale of supernatural suspense by Tim Bowler:

Or you might like to have a go with this haunting tale by Tom Pow:

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