Out of the Depths by Cathy MacPhail

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Out of the Depths by Cathy MacPhail

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Buy Out of the Depths by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Tyler thinks she must be going mad, because she's just seen her teacher. The one who died six months ago. The teasing gets so bad that she has to move to a new school, but there, things get even worse. Statues move, and a murdered boy asks for her help. What is happening to her?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: November 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780747599098

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It must be cool to have some superpower, right? Be able to fly, or hold your breath for an hour underwater, or see dead people? Hmm . . . not so much. Tyler isn't at all impressed when she suddenly starts to see people who really shouldn't be there, and neither are her classmates. In fact, they think she's either lying to get attention, or she's insane. And Tyler is beginning to wonder if they're right.

Tyler doesn't have the typical story-book parents who either send her away to some top-secret training school, or throw her out onto the street to fend for herself. They're kind, they're funny, and they love her dearly. So when the bullying gets too bad, they agree to move her to another school. A normal, everyday school. This is one of Cathy MacPhail's greatest talents, to capture the familiar and turn it into a dramatic and exciting story. The people in her books could easily live down your street, and they act and sound just like you. And because the problems and adventures she writes about happen to ordinary people, they seem all the more striking and scary.

St Anthony's College isn't like the bright, modern school she attended before. It is vast and old, with wooden panels on the walls and stained glass windows. But the pupils are nice, and before the first day is over Tyler finds she has already been accepted into a friendly group from her class. They tease her a bit, telling silly stories about the school being haunted, but Tyler doesn't mind: people always do that to the new kid. There's just one problem. She promised herself she wouldn't mention anything about the dead teacher she saw: she wants a fresh start. Trouble is, she's hardly been in the school ten minutes when a statue turns round and looks at her. She steps back and bangs her head, so before she even gets into her first lesson she has a reputation for fainting. Great.

Things get worse. Her friends tell her that a boy, Ben Kincaid, was murdered years before by one of the teachers, Father Michael. The boy she sees every day, sitting at the back of her class and staring at her. The statues keep moving, and eerie music lures her to the scene of the crime. And when she eventually confides in her friends, the same cycle of disbelief, anger and bullying starts again. Even her parents lose patience with her.

In the hands of a lesser writer this whole story could become melodramatic and sensationalised. But Cathy MacPhail skilfully leads the reader into Tyler's mind, showing her fear and self-doubt and frustration. Tyler reacts exactly as the reader would, ignoring the whole problem one minute and determined to take decisive action the next. She runs the whole gamut from terror and disbelief to anger, and because the writing is so vivid and detailed, the reader experiences those same emotions. Don't go down that spooky corridor, Tyler! Ignore the weird singing! Keep your eyes on the ground so you're not tempted to go where the statue is pointing!

Fans of Cathy MacPhail won't need to be any encouragement to read this book, but if you've never seen her work before this is a good place to start. Tyler survives her first adventure – just – and the good news is that we are promised further stories about her extraordinary gift. Readers will await the next instalment with impatience.

If you enjoy stories about everyday lives with a single, extraordinary twist, you will also love A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler about a girl who gets into a lift and loses a whole year of her life.

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Buy Out of the Depths by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Out of the Depths by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Out of the Depths by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Out of the Depths by Cathy MacPhail at Amazon.com.

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