Waterslain Angels by Kevin Crossley-Holland

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Waterslain Angels by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Kevin Crossley-Holland never lets down a single reader. This is beautifully written, evocative detective story with resonance for both past and present. Lovely stuff.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Orion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1842556916

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Annie lives in on the North Norfolk coast in Waterslain, a village on the edge of the saltmarshes and full of people whose ancestors have lived in the area for countless centuries. It's the 1950s, ten years after the end of World War II, but reminders of it are all around, with barbed wire on the beach and pill boxes still guarding against a long-defeated enemy. Annie is a bright and enthusiastic child, full of sassiness and vigour. Her new friend, Sandy, is very different. He's a pale, geeky, asthmatic child with less outward confidence. But underneath, Annie and Sandy aren't so very different - they share a dogged determination and an independence of thought.

So when a fragment of carved angel's wing belonging to Waterslain's church is found, the two children decide upon a summer quest to find the whereabouts of the angels saved from Cromwell's desecration of East Anglian churches four hundred years before.

What follows is a pacy and tense detective story written on top of a backbone of Crossley-Holland's wise understanding of children, family life, and the way that the past has a habit of interfering with the present. Annie and Sandy have some fairly hair-raising adventures, climbing down dangerous and unstable church towers and old wells and almost drowning in a flooded tunnnel. But underneath all the detecting, there's a vivid picture of life in the fifties and an emotional landscape immediately recognisable to children of the noughties.

The dialogue, particularly between Annie and her parents, is a delight. It's clear that this is a time now past and there are no grating anachronisms but the exchanges really do make the characters come alive. Sandy was born in America, his Waterslain mother had been a GI bride, and there's some robust but subtle humour in the differences in his vocabulary. But most of all, it's a lesson in how little you need exposition when you understand dialogue.

I don't think Kevin Crossley-Holland has ever let a single reader down and he won't start doing so with Waterslain Angels. It's interesting, it's direct, it's pacy and it has a magical quality too, in the wild landscapes it describes and in Annie's insightful dream sequences. There's a little bit of angel inside all of us, says one of the characters, but perhaps it's just normal for Norfolk.

Recommended.

My thanks to the nice people at Orion for sending the book.

Younger readers might also enjoy The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo. Older readers should look at The Owl Service by Alan Garner.

Buy Waterslain Angels by Kevin Crossley-Holland at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Waterslain Angels by Kevin Crossley-Holland at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Waterslain Angels by Kevin Crossley-Holland at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Waterslain Angels by Kevin Crossley-Holland at Amazon.com.


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