His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters

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His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters

Buy His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: Famous Five meets the X-files via Scooby Doo...a page turning fantasy mystery story aimed at young readers, but if you're child-like enough to enjoy Dr Who you might like it too.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 330 Date: October 2020
Publisher: Independently Published

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In September 1944 something came down in Oban Woods, near the village of Hurstwick. It came down hard, taking the spire of the village church with it, destroying a stone shack, and leaving a wide trail through the wood, but no trace of what it actually was. German secret weapon was the local gossip, but there should have been an explosion and a crater, and there were neither of those things.

The war office determined that there was a rocket fired that night, shot high into the sky, just to see how high it might go. It came down in pieces, but those pieces were spread over a wide area: an internationally wide area. It had come apart violently, a very long way up. It would appear to have hit something but "what is there to hit sixty miles up"?

George Moss is an evacuee from London, and as in all the best children's adventure stories he has a dog. The dog isn't his…he's just sort of adopted it, as the family have sort of adopted him. On the night of the Hurstwick incident as it becomes known, George and Chip (the dog) set out to investigate alongside the adults. It is in trying not to get caught doing so that they first come across the stranger. A stranger they will come to know as Wren.

In July 2018 14-year-old Max Cannon and his mother leave London for good and move to a cottage in Hurstwick. He's not keen on the idea. It's not that he will miss his friends. He doesn't really have any friends, but he will miss being able to watch people from the balcony of their high-rise flat. Watching is something that Max does. Not having friends is something he is about to stop doing…first Ellie and then Isaac quickly work their way into his world. Ellie is the worldly-wise older girl (by all of one year) and Isaac is a self-confessed geek (and proud of it). They don't have a dog – though they might find themselves inventing one at some stage in the adventure.

Ah yes. Of course there is to be an adventure. Three school-children, each a bit strange in their own way, the beginning of the summer holidays, and they live in the kind of place where even in the 21st century children are pretty much left to their own devices during the day, and riding bicycles is still a thing. Of course mobile phones and drone cameras are also a thing. They also live in a place where 74 years ago something came down in the woods and at least one of the locals does not believe the official version of events about that night.

What follows can be described as The Famous Five meet the X-files by way of Scooby Doo – a number of the villagers are decidedly not quite 'right'. A series of unlikely events, including boxes hidden under floorboards, diverted by-pass routes and a negligent night-watchman, lead our modern trio into investigating what really happened in 1944. Expect aliens and strange hunters.

The book is marketed with a target audience of 12+ but I think would appeal to younger confident readers. The plot twists occur at suitable intervals and it is a mixture of plausibility and silliness. Reading as a non-parent adult, I confess to having enjoyed it. From the adult perspective a lot of what is to follow can be guessed at in general terms, but the precise unfolding kept me engaged enough to keep turning the pages and wanting to know how it would all play out. I will admit that I missed some of the early clues. If you can suspend disbelief enough to enjoy Doctor Who, then I think you'll get this one.

The humour is lightly played, and the violence kept real-enough but not graphic or gruesome.

The one problem I do have with the book is that it does continue beyond what I felt was its natural end-point. The final chapter does feel like a rush to wrap it all up. I'd have preferred to see the events of that chapter more fully developed in the same style as the rest of the book, or alternatively for it to have stopped at the end of the previous chapter, with only a line or two to hint at what happens next…opening the way to Episode 2.

All in all though it's a good read and I'm sure any budding sci-fi readers who are still more into the fiction than the science will really enjoy it.

If they like this, then the Bookbag thinks they'll also love The Declaration by Gemma Malley

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Buy His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters at Amazon.com.


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