Book review

Worm in the Blood by Thomas Bloor (2005)

Do you know that feeling, when you wake up from a particularly vivid nightmare, and for awhile it all stays with you? Your whole morning can take on a surreal quality while you are trapped inside your own nightmare.

I think that is how Sam must feel, at least in the beginning of this story. Except, for Sam, thenightmare has no end. He simply learns to live with it.As you read his story you can watch him pass through the fabric of reality from steady, unremarkable schoolboy to, well, it's all in the genes, we say.

...'a touch of the worm in the blood'.

Sam'smother is Chinese, from the strange and remoteisland of Luhngdou. If she knows what's in her genes, she never tells Sam, or Sam's father. Perhaps she means to tell when the time is right, but she leaves it too late and dies suddenly before she has the chance.

What has Sam inherited from his mother? Father David Lee thinks he knows. He's searching for Sam. It's an urgent matter.

No one in Chinatown will tell Father David anything. He is fluent in several Chinese dialects but it does him no good. His mother tongue is Luhngdonese, and no one speaks that language here. Something in his use of words, some trace of an accent, betrays his origin and puts people on their guard.

Can he find Sam in time to be of any use to the boy? And what is happening to Sam?

The rash was bigger now, spreading from halfway up to his shoulder to halfway down to his wrist. The skin was red and covered with livid blisters, tingling with a combination of soreness and irritation. At the joint of his arm, where the rash had first flared up, the blisters had flaked and burst and the skin was peeling away to reveal a raw but surprisingly hard layer of mottled flesh beneath. It was strangely coloured, spotted, with tinges of blue and orange. It was this lurid coloration that alarmed Sam more than anything.

Do you know how it feels when something terrible happens and you don't feel able toconfide inanyone else? You just carry the burden yourself, isolated and afraid.

See what happens to Sam. It's not what you're expecting...

A riveting, appalling transformation story. Brilliantly told, ratcheting up the horror, bit by bit. Highly recommended.

What can I read next?

If you enjoy stories set in that cross-over place between fantasy and reality you might like to look at anything by David Almond, but perhaps especially this one:

And if you relish the shiver down the spine that a really ghastly bit of horror writing can give you, have a look at this one by Lynne Reid Banks:

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