There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this book and the others in the series, particularly after the film adaptation. A friend of mine recommended it to me and I was looking forward to reading some gothic YA fiction. This is a story about Jacob who on a trip to Wales happens upon a mysterious island full of children with special abilities that links to his own troubled past. Tense and peculiar from the beginning, this novel felt like a fantastical, gothic rewrite of an Enid Blyton book. The setting is picturesque but the story is decidedly dark.
I enjoyed the writing very much and Jacob felt real and complex. I enjoyed the movement between modernity and war time Wales and I was intrigued to see where the story would go.
However, there is a problem with this book. It is 95% build. There is always the suggestion of something more but the ending felt flat and anti-climatic. It very much feels like the first book in a series which is understandable but somewhat frustrating if you don’t want to commit to the rest of the series. I wanted more from the ending as there was no really twist, just the suspicions of both reader and protagonist being proven right and a choice to be made that really we already know the outcome.
It’s a good book, great for young and teenage readers, but if buying for a sibling or child I would recommend buying the series as this is not meant to be a standalone novel.
I really enjoyed the photographs used, real Victorian era postcards with a ghostly quality. They added something real and otherworldly to the book and I think they would heighten the interest of younger readers. They certainly set this book apart, giving it a sense of reality even with its fantastical cast of peculiar children!