Sunday, September 11, 2011

Review of White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick

Sedgwick, Marcus.  White Crow.  Roaring Brook Press, 2011.

London teen dragged to a tiny town against her will, doomed to spend summer away from her friends - it's an old story.  And Rebecca's reluctant friendship with the village oddball, Ferelith, who is lonely, very smart, and troubled as heck, has a familiar ring to it as well.  Add to that a grand old building with a ghastly past, and you've got all the ingredients for a delicious Summer Gothic.

Lest you roll your eyes, keep in mind that Sedgwick is a master in the fine art of creating tension and bringing it to the breaking point - and beyond.

 In third person, we learn Rebecca's side of the story.  She lives only with her dad, a police inspector who has been accused of negligence that resulted in the death of a teenaged girl; to get away temporarily from all the fuss and negative media attention, he has escaped with Rebecca to the dying town of Winterfold, on the English coast.  Rebecca is Not Thrilled. 

Ferelith tells her own story, which has the effect of letting us get to know her more than anyone else has ever bothered to do but which becomes chilling when we realize we didn't really know her at all.  Like Rebecca, we find ourselves unable to gauge exactly how disturbed Ferelith might be.

Oh, and then there's the truly creepy diary of a Winterfold pastor, recounting the grisly events that occurred - with his full cooperation - in 1798 at the Hall.  The reader knows that these events must be connected to the present day - and that it can't bode well.

A supernatural chill runs through the story, bred by the pastor's obsession with hell and the devil.  What becomes clear is that humans can work plenty of evil without any help from the devil.

The twist at the end is particularly compelling and keeps the book focused on what it is really about - loneliness and human connection.  Highly recommended for teens who relish a creepy, atmospheric read with a bit of depth. 

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