White Crow
by Sedgwick, Marcus

Sixteen-year-old Rebecca moves with her father from London to a small, seaside village, where she befriends another motherless girl and they spend the summer together exploring the village's sinister history.

MARCUS SEDGWICK is most recently the author of Revolver, which was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in the UK and received four starred reviews in the US. The author of eleven widely admired previous novels, he lives in Sussex, England.

Using three wildly different voices and two time periods separated by more than 200 years, Sedgwick's horror offering is pretty ambitious for its modest page count. The good news: he pulls it off. Sixteen-year-old Rebecca and her policeman father have just moved from London to the seaside town of Winterfold to escape the controversy surrounding his failure to save a girl's life. There Rebecca meets Ferelith, a philosophic goth whose tricky mannerisms keep her status constantly in question-is she friend or foe? While the two play increasingly dark "games," Sedgwick cuts back to 1798, when the town priest teamed up with a visionary doctor to try to learn the secrets of the afterlife. These sections, written as the priest's journal in convincing period tongue, are masterful in their ominous vagueness ("But, oh! The blood! The blood!"). The chapters from Ferelith's point of view-as well as her character-feel far less assured. Still, Sedgwick dovetails the plot splendidly. This book is one thing very few YA novels are: genuinely scary. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Two girls are brought together more from ennui than anything else in this riveting tale that brings the murderous history of a disintegrating coastal town into the present.

Rebecca moves to Winterfold with her disgraced father, a policeman accused—but not convicted—of failure to do his duty, which resulted in a death. Her boyfriend quickly moves on, and, left to her own resources, she discovers Ferelith, a girl close in age, but miles away in capacity for dangerous stunts. Neither girl likes the other much, but there's little else to distract them. Judiciously interspersed are extracts from the 1798 diary of a parson who has met a French newcomer and discovers that they are both fascinated to know what science can tell them of the afterlife. As the grisly experiments of the past are gradually revealed, so do the girls embark on increasingly dangerous games of daring, uneasily testing their trust and knowledge of each other. While at any moment they could walk away from the nightmare that only readers know is unfolding, these casual choices nonetheless lead them onward. The sea is eroding the coast, and the half-demolished buildings perched on cliff tops add a physical component to the unease. Masterfully plotted to keep the suspense ratcheting ever higher.

Wickedly macabre and absolutely terrifying. (Horror. 14 & up)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.


She could have been anyone.
She could have been any girl who arrived in Winterfold that summer.
That sounds strange, doesn't it?
It sounds strange to my ears, anyway. Summer in Winterfold. How can there ever be any other season here but winter, with a name like that? But whatever the time of year, Winterfold has a cold embrace and, like the snows of winter, it does not let you go easily.
Once upon a time there was a whole town here, not just a handful of houses. A town with twelve churches and thousands of people, dozens of streets, and a busy harbor.
And then the sea ate it.
Storm by storm, year by year, the cliffs collapsed into the advancing sea, taking the town with it, house by house and street by street, until all that was left was a triangle of three streets, a dozen houses, an inn, a church. Well, most of it ...
And then, that summer, she arrived. And actually I'm lying.
She couldn't have been anyone, because the moment I saw her beautiful face I knew I loved her, and I knew she would love me, too.
I knew.

Text copyright 2011 by Marcus Sedgwick

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