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Storm Catchers. Tim Bowler


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A new edition of this gripping novel by Carnegie Medal-winning author


In the riveting opening scene of this novel set in a small seaside town, Ella Parnell is kidnapped, and a vicious ransom note is left for her family. Guilt weighs heavily on older brother Fin, who left Ella and their younger brother, Sam, alone in the house that night while he went to see a friend's new computer. Bowler's (River Boy) atmospheric tale unfolds slowly at first, but the narrative soon picks up the pace as the full impact of Ella's disappearance falls on the family. While Fin battles his remorse, Sam's conversations with his imaginary friend begin to take on a sinister bent. And it quickly becomes clear that the father knows more than he is letting on. Bowler's prose is alternately mystical and workmanlike; the story feels like a metaphysical allegory one moment, a straightforward thriller the next. Ultimately the two threads join: the plot enhanced by the otherworldly elements (the voice of a dead girl speaks to young Sam, a "magic pendulum" seems to point to Ella's location on a map) converges with supernatural elements made more real by the emotionally charged tale. Bowler lays bare the portrait of a family in crisis (even if the denouement seems rushed and somewhat sensationalistic). The imagery of abandoned lighthouses, darkened beaches and desperate midnight excursions make for a believable, frightening backdrop to an immersive read. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Gr 7-10-A suspenseful psychological page-turner with a supernatural element. Set in a small coastal village in Cornwall, it opens with a girl being snatched from her home in the middle of a storm. Fin, her older brother, blames himself for leaving Ella and their little brother, Sam, alone while their parents were at the pub. The kidnapper, a boy about Fin's age, hides Ella in a cave beneath an abandoned lighthouse and demands ransom money. When Sam sees and hears a spectral girl who encourages him to catch the next storm from the cliff's edge, he repeatedly follows the voice along the dangerous coastal path. His sensitivity helps Fin use a form of dowsing with a pendulum to find Ella in the nick of time. But, just as the lighthouse collapses, so does the family, as Ella learns the dark secrets of her father's past, including an affair, the accidental death of a child, and blackmail. Can the family weather this next storm? Bowler's plot is tightly scripted, with good pacing and steadily building tension. The complex themes of guilt and betrayal enhance the suspense. The author's stylistic use of symbolism, such as the collapsing lighthouse and three offshore islands, the Three Furies, also enriches the story. A lot happens very quickly in the resolution. There is some strong language, appropriate to the intensity of the situation. This dark thriller will appeal to fans of Robert Cormier.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

`Bowler's latest classic is a psychological thriller that's every bit as classy as the works of Barbara Vine.' The Guardian `Storm Catchers is a cliff-top hanger . . . an atmospheric tale that is suspenseful and scary' The Sunday Times `It's heady stuff, full of atmosphere, energy and emotional shrapnel.' Lindsay Fraser, The Guardian

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