Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell

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Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Twelve-year-old Jack Morrow thinks his life is going to be complicated when he discovers his father is being sent to prison. He has no idea just how extraordinary the next few weeks are going to be. For to his surprise Jack discovers he is a Yard Boy, someone who can use gravestones to travel in time to the date of a person's death. But there are ruthless and greedy people out there, determined to exploit his gift for their own ends.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 340 Date: January 2013
Publisher: Andersen Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781849395236

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Jack's mother was killed when he was a young boy and now, just before his thirteenth birthday, he learns that his father is leaving him too — for a spell in prison. And then things get seriously weird, because his long-dead grandfather appears to warn him that his life in in danger. The old man is closely followed by a bunch of murderous creatures called the Dustmen, and in order to escape them Jack is forced to flee back to 1940, using a sorrowline.

The idea behind this original and exciting book is that certain people, called Yard Boys, can travel back in time to the day a person died via their gravestone. These travellers, including Jack, originate from the First World, which lies very close to the ordinary world Jack and the reader know, but whose inhabitants possess magic and all manner of arcane talents. All this, and much more, Jack's mother had kept secret from him. And indeed there are more surprises to come for Jack, because he is able to travel forwards as well as backwards in time, and may in fact be not a mere Yard Boy but a real Timesmith.

Needless to say there are financial gains to be had for people who work with, or control, a Yard Boy, especially one as gifted as Jack, and he soon learns the painful truth that even people who appear to be his friends can be persuaded to betray him out of fear or a desire for profit. As he moves from age to age he learns of the Rose, a magical item desired by the evil Rouland because of the immense power it brings, and Jack's horror and confusion increase as he sees his attempts to stop the wicked First Worlder bring pain and death to many of those around him.

This is a thrilling story with a clever premise. It allows the reader to see what it would be like to go back in time, to experience the smells and tastes, the attitudes and the perils of being a young boy alone in a world which is so different and yet so similar to our own. Jack experiences kindness, greed, cruelty and friendship. He lives through the London Blitz, and has to fend alone for several days in mid-winter in the early nineteenth century. At the same time, he has to cope with another world, one which is peopled with a whole galaxy of magical beings including creatures which collect souls, and warriors who cannot die. It is an exciting tale, and readers will be glad to hear that Jack is to continue his time-travelling adventures in further books.

A classic time travel story is A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle, which despite its age still grips young readers. And if you fancy some light relief, try Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time by Frank Cottrell Boyce — priceless!

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Buy Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sorrowline by Niel Bushnell at


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