A cleverly constructed story about three kids lost in the woods where time shifts at a different speed with strange and scary consequences.
When Dizzy finds a series of sticks arranged on the path in the wood, he’s convinced it must be a secret message. Perhaps even a message from a spy! Dizzy persuades Charlie to join him to investigate after school but school bully, Johnny, overhears and warns them of other dangers. Johnny frightens Charlie with tales of Old Crony who eats children and then follows this up by creeping into the woods behind them. Wrapped in blood-soaked bandages, Johnny successfully manages to spook both Dizzy and Charlie. However, Johnny also manages to chase them off the path. Soon all three children are lost in the quickly darkening woods. So begins what is going to be the longest night of Charlie Noon.
This is the story of three kids lost in the woods. It’s the story of one very long night in which a lot of very strange things happen. There are mysteries, puzzles and a whole lot of clues that everything may not be what it seems. However, it isn’t until you reach the final chapters that everything slots into place and you realise this is a story about the nature of time and the potential future of our three main characters in a very specific era.
The story is written from Charlie (Charlotte’s) first person perspective in a way that is immensely readable. I particularly liked how her family circumstances (parents with an unhappy marriage and a father who drinks) are woven seamlessly into the story. I was even more impressed with the strength of the characterisation of the other two children. Although seen exclusively through Charlie’s eyes, both Dizzy and Johnny are strong and believable characters and Johnny’s growth as result of the night’s events is especially moving.
While I fully expect fans of Christopher Edge’s books to rave about this latest offering, I think it’s worth mentioning that this book may not appeal to all middle grade readers. Indeed, without the context of Christopher’s other books, some readers may struggle to appreciate the ideas about the nature of time and may find the underlying premise at times confusing. In fact, if you’re new to his writing, you might find it helpful to read one of his other books first: I’d highly recommend The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge.
If you enjoyed this, why not check out one of Christopher Edge’s other novels. I’m so intrigued that I’ve recently purchased both The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The James Drake Equation.
Publication Date: June 2019
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Author’s website: Christopher Edge