Most people probably know Anthony Horowitz for his Alex Rider series, which was turned into a film with Alex Pettyfer (and Alicia Silverstone and Ewan McGregor for you folks out there who are my age).
I’ve got the Alex Rider series on my shelf to read, but while browsing the shelves at the library I picked up Raven’s Gate, the first in Horowitz’s The Power of Five series.
Fourteen-year-old Matt Freeman finds himself in dire straits when he is arrested by the police. His aunt, who took him in after his parents died, no longer wants him, and jail isn’t quite ready for him. So he’s put on a government scheme, which leads to him being fostered by Jayne Deverill, who owns a farm just outside the tiny village of Lesser Malling in Yorkshire.
Matt is put to work on the farm, and on his first visit to Lesser Malling discovers it’s not just Mrs Deverill who’s weird, it’s all the villagers. And every time Matt tries to get away he finds himself back on the road to the village, and every time he tries to get help from someone, they die.
Raven’s Gate is a wonderfully creepy book. Mrs Deverill was a cross between the evil mother from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Miss Trunchbull from Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Terence Hardiman as The Demon Headmaster from the television series of the same name I used to watch as a child. With her severe looks and cold manner, I was as scared of Mrs Deverill as Matt is in the book.
Horowitz is great at adding an extra dimension to the world we live in. Matt’s story is so crazy that he thinks no one in the real world will believe him, and of course we wouldn’t. But watching Matt go through what he does left me wanting to scream: “It’s all TOO normal, believe him, please!”
Raven’s Gate built to a spectacular climax, with a couple of great twists I didn’t see coming. This may be a children’s book, but as an adult I thought Horowitz’s writing and plotting was clever and engaging, and I’ll definitely be reading more of this series.
How I got this book: Borrowed from the public library.