The Warrior In The Mist by Ruth Eastham

The Blurb On The Back:

”Their bodies flickered strangely – transparent, blueish, as if they were made of flames.  With a jolt, he realised that they were fading.  Time was running out.”

Who are the phantom girls?  What do they want with Aidan?

Aidan’s village is under siege.  A fracking company has moved onto the land.

Once drilling is complete, the paddocks looked after by Aidan’s family will be gone, along with his home and the horse he loves.

Aidan and his best friends Emmi and Jon have one last hope.  Legend has it that the warrior queen Boudicca is buried close by.  If only they can find the tomb … prove this is the site of her last great battle against Roman invaders …

As the mists of time separating ancient history from present day swirl and fade, Aidan must face a deadly enemy.  He must fight to uncover the truth of the ghostly sisters, before it is too late.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Aidan lives with his dad in the grounds of Lord Berryman’s estate where they look after Lord Berryman’s horses.  Aidan has a particularly strong bond with Centurion, a stallion who was the favourite of his mum before she died but Lord Berryman has sold part of his estate to a fracking company and Aidan’s dad has been forced to get a new job in the city, meaning that Aidan will have to move away from Centurion and his friends Emmi and Jon.

The whole village opposes the fracking and is desperate to get it stopped.  The area is rich in history and it’s claimed that queen Boudicca and her daughters are buried there, although no one’s ever found proof.  But when Aidan starts to see a vision of two ghostly sisters on Lord Berryman’s land and Emmi’s cousin Robbie claims to have found a treasure and is then seriously injured in a hit-and-run, the three wonder if he found something connected to Boudicca’s tomb.  With the fracking scheduled to start in only a couple of days, the three race to find the truth but someone’s keen to stop them and they’ll go to any lengths in order to do so …

Ruth Eastham’s supernatural adventure story for children aged 9+ is a solid read that draws together paranormal elements, a contemporary anti-fracking story line and mystery to slightly uneven effect and although it plays a little loose with the legend of Boudicca and the antagonists a little two dimensional, it has a strong core of friendship between the central characters that carries you through to the end.

Aidan, Emmi and Jon are well characterised and I enjoyed their friendship – particularly the dialogue between them, which features some nice one-liners.  I believed in Aidan’s fears and his love for the horses and he’s quite resourceful and brave, but I felt that the arson storyline was a little trite and wasn’t really needed to give additional impetus to Aidan’s actions.  I also wasn’t completely convinced that the paranormal elements were needed or added a huge amount and the story of Boudicca is played with a little loosely (notably the final fate of her and her daughters) and I felt that more could have been made of the fracking storyline, which is a hugely controversial topic but is here little more than a plot device to set the ticking clock for the action.  I’d have also liked to have seen some discussion of the effects of fracking on the local community and why the villagers are protesting against it (especially given one of the twists, which cuts across the protests).

That said, the pacing works well, I liked the characters and cared enough about them to want to read through to the end and I would definitely check out what Eastham writes next.

THE WARRIORS IN THE MIST was released in the United Kingdom on 24th August 2017.  Thanks to Shrine Bell for the review copy of this book.

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