Saturday, 25 September 2010

Review: Revolver

Revolverby Marcus Sedgewick

The year is 1910. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson sits in a cabin in the Arctic Circle. Next to him lies the frozen corpse of his father. His sister and step-mother have gone for help, leaving Sig alone… until there’s a knock at the door.

The visitor calls himself Wolff. He’s big, imposing, terrifying, and by his side is the butt of a revolver. He claims he has unfinished business, and bit by bit we get a picture of what his relationship with Sig’s father was, and how he really died.

But Wolff isn’t the only one with a gun. Sig knows that in the storeroom, in a box on a shelf, there is another. As Wolff’s demands for justice intensify, Sig can’t think of anything else but his father’s gun and whether or not he can get it in time.

Revolver is an intensely gripping, claustrophobic thriller. It’s a short, uncluttered novel, making the pages fly by, but the story is deep enough to stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

One thing I hate in novels is the feeling that I’m being spoon-fed internet research, that the writer is just regurgitating stuff he’s read elsewhere. This doesn’t happen in Revolver. The setting of the novel, the crushing cold of the world outside and isolation are given with minimal, but perfect details, making the world completely believable. I was very interested to read the author’s notes, that he actually went to Northern Sweden to feel the cold for himself as well as learning how to handle and fire a Colt revolver. These real life experiences pepper the novel with a genuine authority that really brings the scenes, the mood and the terror to life.

All in all, one of the best YA novels I’ve read.



The year is 1910. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson sits in a cabin in the Arctic Circle. Next to him lies the frozen corpse of his father. His sister and step-mother have gone for help, leaving Sig alone… until there’s a knock at the door.


The visitor calls himself Wolff. He’s big and cold and terrifying, and by his side is the butt of a revolver. He claims he has unfinished business, and bit by bit we get a picture of what his relationship with Sig’s father was, and how he really died. But Wolff isn’t the only one with a gun. Sig knows that in the storeroom, in a box on a shelf, there is another. As Wolff’s demands for justice intensify, Sig can’t think of anything else but his father’s gun

and whether or not he can get it in time.


Revolver is an intensely gripping, claustrophobic thriller. It’s a short, uncluttered novel, making the pages fly by, but the story is deep enough to stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.


One thing I hate in novels is the feeling that I’m being spoon-fed internet research, that the writer is just regurgitating stuff he’s read elsewhere. This doesn’t happen in Revolver. The setting of the novel, the crushing cold of the world outside and isolation are given with minimal, but perfect details, making the world completely believable. I was very interested to read the author’s notes, that he actually went to Northern Sweden to feel the cold for himself as well as learning how to handle and fire a Colt revolver. These real life experiences pepper the novel with a genuine authority that really bring the scenes, the mood and the terror to life.


All in all, one of the best YA novels I’ve read.


Saturday, 26 June 2010

Getting Soaked at Alnwick Gardens

Wake up, make sarnies, grab crisps, pop, kids and go...

It was fantastic weather up at Alnwick Gardens today. This time, we had the forethought to take a change of clothes for the kids and a towel. This is because there is a fabulous water feature there. It's a huge column that gradually fills with water. When the water reaches the top, a valve opens and water jets shoot up around it.

So yeah, the kids were okay - they had a change of clothes. But Matthew got so excited that we couldn't leave him out - and that meant someone would have to stand in there with him. Me.





But Matthew loved it, so I didn't mind walking around for the next three hours with a damp arse. The gardens are so fantastic that it wouldn't have mattered anyway. I must have been taken with it because I've agree to go to a garden centre tomorrow. Fancy doing something creative. Maybe a bamboo maze like this...


Maybe I'll just buy a pot-plant.

Colin Mulhern

Friday, 28 May 2010

Review: The Knife That Killed Me

The Knife That Killed Meby Anthony McGowan

It was clear in Chapter Two where this novel was going, but I think that was intentional. It’s a bit like a crime novel where you’re presented with a corpse, so you know someone was murdered, but you climb aboard to find out why; you know the outcome, but you want to know the how and why. This is like that. You buy into the ride.
And it’s a pretty damn good ride.

Unfortunately, like the best rides, it’s over just a little too quick, but it leaves you wanting more. There is an incredibly fresh feeling to the writing that makes the voice of Paul come across as genuine, and a similar underbelly of black humour to Henry Tumour.

The other characters are great and Anthony McGowan has pushed the boundaries in order to make his baddy, Roth, something more than a cardboard bully. How he does this... well, that’s for the reader to find out. It certainly made me sit up and think, ‘Oh, he’s never going to go that far!’ Brilliant.

As for Shane – the mysterious, cool, confident leader of the nerdy goth/freaks (his words, not mine!). I felt a bit short changed. I wanted to read more, especially when hit with a scene of Shane self harming. That was enough to crack the too-good-to-be-true image that Paul had built up, giving him a shadow that I really wanted to explore. But, maybe a sprinkling of pepper is better than a coat.

Overall, good, strong teen fiction. A little too short, but still worth 5 stars.



Colin Mulhern

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Review: Under The Dome

Under The DomeBy Stephen King

Three hundred and thirty six thousand words.

That really needs it's own paragraph. This is one monster of a book, and a great story. I've been up, night after night, until the hours are late and my eyes are dry, glued to every page.

In brief, this is the story of a small town cut off from the outside world by an inpenetratable force field they come to call The Dome. No one can get in to help; no one can get out to escape. For one man, that isn't such a bad thing. As he tries to take dictorial control over the town, the body count mounts.

There is something about this book that feels like it was written in the eighties alongside The Stand and IT. On the downside, the characters aren't as well drawn as the kids in IT, and the story isn't as impressive as The Stand. It also feels way too long. There are a lot of sections that could be trimmed or cut, and having finished it, the story that stays with me doesn't reflect the size of the book.

The other thing that got me was the mystery aspect: what the dome actually is and why it's there. It felt like Series One of Lost when they find the hatch. In fact, there's a reference to Lost in the book, so maybe King's a fan.

I'm not giving any spoilers away, but at first, when I discovered what the dome was, I was hit by disappointment. However, once I realised the point the author was getting at, it all made sense and gave for a very satisfying conclusion.

Overall, a great story. Was it too long? I don't know. Some sections felt like waffle, and it was good to reach the end, but it was also sad that it was over. I'd have happily continued reading for another 300 pages.