Tregarthur's Promise by Alex Mellanby

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Tregarthur's Promise by Alex Mellanby

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: This book definitely has traces of Lord of the Flies, but this is not a tale of innocence lost, but of innocence found.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 220 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Cillian Press Limited
ISBN: 978-0957315549

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Mrs Tregarthur has assembled a very strange assortment of children for her hiking trip on Dartmoor. She seems to have collected the misfits, the trouble makers, and the unwanted. In other words, the children that will not be missed. This is of course more than a simple day trip. Mrs Tregarthur has made a dreadful promise which can only be fulfilled by the children. The children are more of a handful than she expects though and fail to reach the cave as quickly as she would like. When an earthquake drives some of the group into the cave for shelter the teacher shouts out the very strange words to Alvin: Keep my promise. Save him! Alvin soon has other things to worry about though as a cave-in leaves the group trapped. Eventually finding their way out on the other side, they find themselves in a primeval forest with no way back to their own homes or time. Survival will become a battle which not all of them will win, but their biggest danger will not be the cold, starvation or dangerous animals. It will be from the other children.

When I first saw this book and saw the words prehistoric, I immediately thought Mesozoic Era and dinosaurs. I should know better of course, and closer inspection of the cover reveals mammoths and what I believe to be Irish Elk or Megaloceros giganteus. This story takes place in the Cenozoic Era, and by my guess somewhere around 30,000 years ago, give or take a few thousand years. The children involved are from highly dysfunctional families. Child abuse is brought up, but not in a graphic enough fashion to be disturbing to the younger reader. The struggle for survival these youngsters will face is, in many ways no worse than that they have faced in their own homes. Crisis will bring out the best in some, like Jenna and Alvin, and the worst in others. Jenna finds a natural maternal instinct and desire to protect the younger children. Alvin has always been the type to keep his head down and try to go unnoticed but he soon finds himself forced to assume leadership as a matter of survival. That won't go down well though with the psychotic bully, Zac. The children must learn to hunt, gather and survive in an alien landscape, as well as to defend themselves from the more ruthless in their own group.

This is intense, raw and gritty at times. There is violence, death and wanton cruelty. But the darkest periods are short, this is a book about overcoming adversity rather than being overcome by it. It has plenty of action and adventure as well as trials and tribulations, but the overall tone is positive as some of the young people find themselves capable of much more than they would have dreamed. The character development is outstanding. Mellanby has created very believable three dimensional characters. The friendships a relationships between the children add to the story immensely and make the reader really want to get into the next book in this series.

The ending is somewhat unexpected and leaves us with a small twist. Not enough to make the reader feel dissatisfied with this book as a stand alone novel, but enough to make you really want to pick up the next book in the series (sadly I have no idea how long we will have to wait). I could find fault with a few inconsistencies regarding time travel if I really wanted something to nit-pick, but the fact is, they did not take from my enjoyment of the book in any way. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the sequel. This is listed for teens and I can certainly see the very lifelike teenage characters appealing to younger readers, but I think it has plenty to offer adults as well. There are some excellent twists in this, but I'm not one to give away things that it would be better to discover for yourself. I have a few questions about the sequel. It is going to be difficult to pull off believably. But, considering the authors obvious talent in writing this book I will be more than happy to give it a try, despite the fact that this series appears way outside my usual interest range. The author jumps into full swing very quickly and there are no dull moments, making this ideal for boys and older children who lose interest easily, but it makes a pretty good read for adults as well.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Gone by Michael Grant.

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Buy Tregarthur's Promise by Alex Mellanby at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tregarthur's Promise by Alex Mellanby at


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