Some little while ago I happened upon this blog entry by my good mate BearNecessitude: http://necessitude.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/a-spooky-story/
I discovered, to my immense shame, that he had only gone and written a book and published it on Amazon Kindle, of which fact I was completely unapprised, despite several lengthy conversations with him on Twitter. So much for the publicity drive, Bear.
Now I have to tell you, I am deeply in awe of anyone who can actually finish writing a book. Since High School I have created numerous first paragraphs; a few, rare, complete first chapters; several interesting hand-painted covers for an as-yet-unrealised science fiction epic; a 60 page Brysonesque travel book, and 333 pages — count ’em! — of a Herbertish thriller which is currently stalled on the hard shoulder, having plotted itself into oblivion while my mind was clearly elsewhere. Apart from the blogs you see here, there is not a single finished piece in my entire oeuvre, or, rather, lack of oeuvre. I am not, you may have gathered, one of life’s natural completer-finishers.
So impressed was I that Bear had achieved what I so signally had not, that I immediately bought the book and vowed that not only would I read it, but I would write about it afterwards. A foolish promise given my record, you might reasonably think, but here it is, and only two months later than I had intended. That’s pretty good going for me.
Having downloaded ‘Wraithtalkers and the Secret of the Red Monk’ I must confess I experienced a momentary shiver of doubt. What if I hated it? What if, as is sometimes the case with self-published authors, enthusiasm had got the better of self-discipline? I am a pedantic reader at the best of times: legion are the free Kindle books I’ve abandoned after a just few paragraphs for crimes against the apostrophe, or for carelessly mangling the English language.
I need not have worried. The first page carried me along reassuringly with its direct, brisk and confident prose. No lengthy expositions here: brief pen pictures introduce the child protagonists, brave Sherlock Holmes fan, Marigold, and her nervous, but faithful, younger brother, Gideon. Within two pages I felt I had known them all my life; then we zoomed straight into the thick of the plot.
I won’t spoil it for you by revealing the storyline. (Note to self: it actually has a coherent storyline; you should try it sometime.) ‘Wraithtalkers’ is a ghost story-cum-adventure for nine to twelve year-olds, and this fiftysomething enjoyed it immensely. It is pacy, it has many twists and turns, it boasts a fine array of characters, it has a smattering of Holmesian detective work and some science fiction gadgetry is thrown in for good measure. It reminded me greatly in style of the children’s novels by the late, much missed, Malcolm Saville. It is pleasingly, classically, old fashioned entertainment. As a child I would have devoured it in a single read and then clamoured for more.
Don’t take my word for it. Download it and enjoy it for yourself. It is the least that Bear deserves for seeing his marvellous creation through its gestation and into print.