The Calling by Philip Caveney
|The Calling by Philip Caveney|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: For a young boy, waking up with amnesia is bad enough – but our hero manages to find himself on a train on his way to Edinburgh on the one night a year the humans pause and the statues come to life. An intriguing and exciting story, and the bonus is, if you happen to be visiting this lovely Scottish city, you can go and see the statues for yourself. Be careful, though: they hear every word you say . . .|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: March 2016|
|Publisher: Fledgling Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Well-informed young readers will always welcome a new book from the extremely gifted Philip Caveney. This time, he places his poor hero right in the middle of not one but two mysteries. Firstly, why has said hero (we'll call him Ed as he's forgotten his real name) woken up on a train to Edinburgh with barely any money, a bump on the head and no memory whatsoever? And secondly, why does the whole human world freeze for a day right in the middle of the Fringe? The answers, when they come, are as intensely thrilling as they are wildly imaginative.
Things start badly, then just get worse and worse. Ed discovers he is the only human ever to witness the Calling, when statues come to life for twenty-four hours. Sounds fun to watch – but lots of the statues don't see it that way. In fact, Charlie (aka King Charles II), their self-declared leader, decides that in order to make sure the statues' secret remains safe, Ed must be executed immediately. If it weren't for a bit of quick thinking on the part of David Livingstone, Ed's story would be very short - and very, very messy.
Luck is on his side in one way, however. There's a statue of Sherlock Holmes in the city, and he is persuaded to help Ed find out what happened. The great detective lives up to his reputation by using Ed's accent to deduce where he comes from – he's so brilliant he can even pinpoint the approximate area of Manchester – and Sherlock's boundless curiosity and clever inventions lead them to the reason Ed was on that train in the first place. Needless to say, that also means the two companions encounter even more danger as they come up against another set of villains – of the human variety this time.
This is a splendid book which manages to combine adventure with a painless sprinkling of facts. The statues which feature in this book, from Queen Victoria to Sir Walter Scott, by way of some very excitable giraffes and Greyfriars Bobby, all actually exist in Edinburgh and a map at the back of the book shows where keen readers can find them. Its excellence as a story apart, it would make a brilliant companion for a visit to Scotland, and will introduce young readers to a host of historical characters.
Philip Caveney has an amazingly vivid and varied imagination, and he can always be relied on to tell a cracking good story. Crow Boy, for example, relates the thrilling events when Tom falls through a crack in time and ends up transported to the time of the bubonic plague. Its sequels, Seventeen Coffins and One For Sorrow send the poor lad to other ominous times in the past – the titles alone give you a clue to the danger involved. Of course, if you want some straight fantasy with a generous dollop of humour, try his Sebastien Darke series. Bookbag particularly enjoyed Prince of Explorers and the A Buffalope's Tale. If they had Olympic medals for moaning and complaining, that Buffalope would win every time! Then again, you might prefer to enter the world of films – literally – with Kip and his little sister Rose in Night on Terror Island, Spy Another Day and Space Blasters. Lots of James-Bond-and-Star-Wars style silliness – but if you want to survive, make sure you get out before the final credits roll . . .
You can read more book reviews or buy The Calling by Philip Caveney at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Calling by Philip Caveney at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.