Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
|Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick|
|Reviewer: Stefan Bachmann|
|Summary: Densely written and chilling in every sense of the word, Revolver is a rare little gem for teens and adults alike. Marcus Sedgwick was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: July 2009|
|Publisher: Orion Childrens Book|
The year is 1910. The place, Giron, one hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle. There, in a little cabin, Sig waits anxiously for his sister and step-mother to return. He's all alone with his father. His father froze to death that morning.
It's not long before a mysterious stranger comes knocking at the door. He has some unfinished business with Sig's father and he's not about to leave until it's resolved. As the day progresses, the stranger becomes more and more threatening until Sig begins to suspect that his one chance of survival lies with a battered old revolver hidden away in the storeroom...
At its heart, Revolver is a simple coming-of-age story. A teenage boy is faced with a nearly insurmountable dilemma (or in this case a whole bunch of nearly insurmountable dilemmas) and must find a way to overcome it (them). But there is so much else woven into that threadbare premise, so many subplots, unpredictable characters and unexpected twists, that adults who wouldn't normally enjoy teenage coming-of-age stories will probably never notice it. And of course teenagers will love it.
The writing is a bit different from what I was used to by Marcus Sedgwick. His deliciously dark visuals, perhaps the best part of his previous works, are pretty much absent here. In their stead is an extremely palpable sense of menace. It permeates the book from the very first page and morphs into crackling suspense in a few particularly memorable scenes.
The tone also differs from the other books I have read by this author. Where many of them verge on the melodramatic and are vaguely surreal, Revolver is gritty, at times gut-wrenchingly realistic. This is that rare sort of book where you know from the start that the author will let anything happen to his characters. It adds a truly chilling dimension to the story, and makes it far more terrifying than any of those superficial gore-fests that pass for horror today.
Finally, the novel has been impeccably researched. Everything from the effects of biting cold, to the gold-rush towns of Canada, to pot-bellied stoves, are portrayed with an amount of authenticity that makes them leap right off the page. Unfortunately, in places it's almost too obvious which parts had to be studied up on; like where the inner workings of the titular revolver are explained in minute detail over several paragraphs. But I'm hardly about to criticize this exciting little book for being too detailed.
In fact, I can't think of anything to criticize it about! I just loved it! Revolver is a dense and satisfying read, alternately sad and scary, thoughtful and compelling. It is definitely not a book only for teenagers. Actually, it seems to me it is more an adult book that teen readers might enjoy as well, rather than vice-versa.
Much thanks to Orion for giving Bookbag a review copy, and to Jill Murphy for then sending it my way!
Further reading suggestion: Anything by Marcus Sedgwick makes for an entertaining read, but his twisty vampire tale My Swordhand is Singing is especially fantastic. Readers who enjoy this sort of creepy atmosphere should definitely check out The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner.
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick is in the Top Ten Book Recommendations From Twitterers.
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick is in the Carnegie Medal Shortlist 2010.
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