Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Where Peacocks Scream by Valerie Mendes Book Review (age 9+)

Where Peacocks Scream is a thrilling book aimed at children aged around 9+. A more grown up read, reminiscent of children's stories written when our Grandparents were children, it'll suit confident readers who like their tales with a lot of mystery and a degree of peril.

Our main character is 12 year old Daniel, who lives in a Pub named The Riverside. He has free run of the grounds, including a large island that is mainly overgrown and unused. Most of his free time is spent sculling (an unfamiliar term to my children) and looking after the boats at the local boatyard. His life is turned upside down by the arrival of a stranger at The Riverside - one who very quickly outstays his welcome and proves to be unlucky for everyone.

The writing has a nice flow and isn't too complicated or tricky for your average 9 year old. The style is more frank and honest than many books they'll encounter - someone gets annoyed and curses, a customer at the pub is killed in an unfortunate, yet somewhat commonplace accident. You aren't expected to believe in magic or taken to a fantasy land, this is a believable character who is modern and not unusual, and he lives in a countryside pub. The reader can identify with Daniel and his friends very easily.

The arrival of the stranger is at first a complete mystery and almost one of those situations where grown ups know what's happening and children are just expected to accept it. The stranger's motives are unknown until very late in the book, and at the end a little bit rushed and confusing really.  That fits with the stranger's realisation that he isn't going to get what he wants and his own sense of confusion and slightly crazy actions in response. It is a gripping story and a fast read, with quite a pace through the second half of the book.

At 144 pages this is a solid read and a good chapter book for younger readers aged around 9+. It may appeal more to confident readers and although it has a touch of innocent romance, it's only a touch, so this will appeal probably equally to boys and girls. There is a strong feel of Famous Five or Swallows And Amazons, and it's a bit like the author started writing 60 years ago and then updated their book sometime post 1980. This is a slightly more sinister read than most modern young fiction for this age group. Action and adventure meets lazy Summer holidays, with a couple of quite grown up topics and a lot of real life thrown in.

Where Peacocks Scream is written by Valerie Mendes and published by Book Guild Publishing. Available to buy now rrp £8.99 from all good book shops instore and online, including Amazon (affiliate link).

We were sent our copy of Where Peacocks Scream for review. Amazon links are affiliates, which costs you nothing extra, but may add up to such riches one day as a whole English pound for me.

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