The publishers of Bloodtide
use the words compelling, gripping and dramatic to describe Melvin Burgess
's follow-up novel to the controversial and prize-winning Junk
. To this description you must add visionary, violent, brutal and bloody to fully appreciate the depth and complexity of this new offering for only the most mature young readers.
Set in a frighteningly realistic ravaged London in the near future, Burgess uses the Icelandic Volsunga saga as inspiration for his plot. Two warring families of ganglords appear united by the marriage of Signy Volson to Conor--head of the opposing family. However, Conor's treachery results not in the long-expected truce but the decimation of the Volson family. Only Signy and her hideously disfigured brother Siggy survive the culling, kept apart by circumstance but united in their hate for Conor. They are intent on revenge--no matter how long it takes--or at what cost.
Burgess has delivered a book of two halves.
The first is a taut, psychological challenge between brother and sister. As Conor consolidates his hold over the capital, Siggy slowly regains his energy, his identity and will to live. Signy, crippled and imprisoned, with only a shape-changing cat for company, spends her teenage youth playing mindgames with the new King of London, preparing for the moment when she might strike a blow for the oppressed population and the memory of her family. It's gripping, gutsy, bloody and purposeful. The shifting viewpoints offer real insight into these two battered minds and all those they infect with their plight.
The second half of the novel is long and ambitious. The vast timescale means that some events are skipped over very quickly and the payoff takes a long time to arrive.
Bloodtide is a long book, nearly 400 pages, and it is doubtful whether or not it is a children's book at all--the characters, settings, colourful language and plots are adult in almost every way. But the book is undeniably addictive, and difficult to give up once it pulls you in. It's a worthy addition to Burgess' short catalogue of fine novels. (Age 12 and over) --John McLay
"An epic tale of treachery, deceit, sex, torture, violence, revenge and retribution.
" (Independent on Sunday
make The Hunger Games
and its clones seem like drippy entertainments for bed-wetters and pillow-huggers." (Anthony McGowan, Guardian
"A scary but compelling view of a possible world to come." (Kids Out
"A story to curdle the blood and capture the imagination. . .(Burgess) has a fantastic imagination and draws out adolescent strong emotions very effectively." (Kit Spring Observer
"As mythology collides with sci-fi, you're dragged into a world of treachery and double-dealing as savage and bloody as that in any gangland saga." (Daily Telegraph