Release Date: 10/05/12
On the eve of Granny Hazel's burial in the back garden, a stranger in his time machine - a machine that bears an uncanny resemblance to a Morris Minor - visits five year-old Edward with a strange request. And Edward agrees to be his friend. But Edward is not alone in the world. His twin sister Sophia is about to bring future tragedy upon herself through an all-too-literal misunderstanding of a promise she's made to their father. So while Sophia stays at home, seemingly condemned to spend the rest of her days in The Manse - a world untouched by modern trappings - Edward is sent to boarding school. There he encounters the kind and the not-so-kind, and meets the strangest child. His name is Alf, and Alf is a boy whose very existence would seem to hint at universes of unlimited possibilities ...and who might one day help Edward liberate Sophia. With its Gothic backdrop, "Half-Sick of Shadows" is a novel of many parts: at once a comical tragedy, a dark and dazzlingly told tale of childhood wonder and dismay, of familial dysfunction, of poetry, the imagination and theoretical physics.
Having won the Anywhere but Here, Anywhere but Now Award in its inaugural year (alongside Michael Logan) I was expecting high things from this title. After all not only did they slash their way through the masses but to be backed by an Award Winning Author like Terry Pratchett, then you can only think that the talent must be some of the best out there of the next generation.
Sadly for me, I felt that this title lost its way after a cracking beginning. Don’t get me wrong, the lead character Edward was engaging, I liked the multifaceted complications of his life and the way that you could associate with him, but in parts it felt that the author lost the chain of thought as to the arc or was bulking out just to reach the word length, which I found detracted from the tale for me. With luck, the subsequent planned titles will fix this error and work harder on keeping the arc tight but if they don’t then this winner may find his career cut short.