Eren by Simon P Clark
|Eren by Simon P Clark|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Unsettling fable about secrets and storytelling. Eren is one of those wonderful books that defy categorisation. You should read it - whether you're six or sixty-six.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: September 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
People - Mum, mostly - are keeping secrets from Oli. Why have they had to leave London and come to live in the country with Uncle Rob? Why hasn't Dad come too? Why does everyone keep turning off the TV news every time it comes on? Why does Em's dad dislike Oli when he doesn't even know him? When will Dad come? When will life go back to normal?
While waiting for answers, Oli does his best to fit in. He makes friends with Em and Takeru and the three go exploring and investigate local myth and legend. But Oli has his own secret: Eren, the strange being he has discovered in Uncle Rob's attic. Part monster, part myth, part dream, Eren needs stories to live. And he is feeding on Oli's story. But what will be the cost to Oli, once Eren has taken his fill?
This story is all about the dark. Eren lives in the dark. Oli is being kept in the dark by his mother. The stories told by Em and Oli and Eren are dark. And, in times of trouble, our innermost thoughts are dark, too. How do we avoid being overtaken by all this darkness? Do we avoid the addictiveness of stories? Or do we embrace the vicarious safety they offer and immerse ourselves in them?
We're in no doubt that Eren is a monster. And so we worry about Oli both in his real life where he's hiding out from the press with his mother and uncle, thanks to the scandal his father is embroiled in, and in his fantasy - is it fantasy? - life in which a hungry-for-stories monster aims to entirely consume this vulnerable little boy.
So, dark it is. But it's also sweet and funny. Oli and his new friends Em and Takeru have some fantastic interactions - Em is strange and eccentric, Takeru witty and straightforward and they both provide foils for the reserved, thoughtful Oli. It's truthful, too, in the conflict at home as Oli's mother tries - and fails - to protect her son by not telling him the truth about what's going on.
I thought it was fabulous. Truly. On the one hand, Eren is a sophisticated look at truth and lies and the area inbetween inhabited by stories. On the other, it's a simple tale of a family in crisis. You're never quite sure what to believe and it never quite feels that the ground is steady beneath your feet. It takes skill to juggle all these balls and still involve the reader to such an extent they can't put your book down, but Clark carries it off with aplomb. This is storytelling at its best. Eren is probably suited best to middle grade readers but anyone who loves storytelling and uncertainty will love it - from teens to grown ups. If you love the work of David Almond, you'll love Eren.
And if that weren't enough, there's also Eren Tales - a collaboration between Clark and photographer Brandon Rechten, which gives you twelve more short stories and twelve works of art as a companion to this wonderful, worrying, inspiring little book.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eren by Simon P Clark at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eren by Simon P Clark at Amazon.com.
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