|The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Alex Mitchell|
|Summary: Featuring a unique blend of science and storytelling, Christopher Edge's short but enthralling novel evokes a timeless feeling of childhood adventure and loss.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: June 2019|
|Publisher: Nosy Crow Ltd.|
What lies in the heart of the old woods? Is it spies? A monster? Well, whatever it is, Charlie, Dizzy and Johnny are determined to find out. However, when night falls unexpectedly, the three kids find themselves trapped in the woods. As the kids wander through the woods, hopelessly lost, they are confronted by insane dangers and unusual puzzles. With even time itself playing tricks on them, it's up to Charlie to find a way out of the woods, but the night stretches on impossibly long, perhaps it might never end...
At first glance, it might be quite difficult to pin down exactly what time period the book is set in. Going into it, I treated the book as if it were set in the present day – but, as the story progressed, I began to realise that it wasn't. Then again, that is kind of the point; the story is meant to feel timeless, like a Hansel-and-Gretel-esque fairy tale, which I think it does very well. The plot also gets increasingly mind-screwy the further in you get, the many twists and turns practically making your hair stand up on end every other page.
The cast of the story is relatively minimal. Our narrator is Charlie Noon, an 11-year old child who has moved from London up to the countryside after a combination of their father losing his job and their grandfather dying and leaving his house to them. Charlie's only friend at school is Dylan, or 'Dizzy' as everyone prefers to call him, a crippled boy with a love of nature and a talent for drawing. The two of them are being followed by Johnny Baines, the local butcher's son and school bully, who slowly warms up to the other two as they get more and more lost. There is also old Crony, a monster that supposedly stalks the forest and eats children who get lost in it. Whether Old Crony exists or not, there is something strange and intelligent living in these woods…
For a children's book, there is a surprising amount of science and puzzles in it. The book features such things as (supposedly) Masonic Code, Morse Code, semaphore and even the Enigma codes (all complete with illustrations), which seem random but all connect in some way to the climax of the book. There are musings on the nature of time and the question what 'the present' truly means which admittedly wouldn't look out of place in a philosophical treatise. All of this is communicated in a way that is reasonably easy for children to understand.
Overall, this is a fascinating little story that blends science and storytelling, into a timeless Hansel-and-Gretel-like tale of feeling lost and alone.
Similar books by other authors:
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle, a classic piece of children's science fiction and time travel.
Time Train to the Blitz by Sophie McKenzie, a similarly short book about children's time travel adventures during the Second World War.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge at Amazon.com.
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