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3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 23 August 2000
A masterpiece in which Susan Hill tells a story that has always been a reality for so many young people. Reflecting back on my time studying this book at GCSE level over five years ago, I'm overcome with emotion every time I flick throughout the pages and remember the emotional torture that each of the two boys are subjected to by parents that are too wrapped up in self-interest to foresee that inevitable tragedy that occurs as Kingshaw escapes the cruelty of circumstance.
A masterpiece comparable to 'Lord of the Flies' and perhaps even 'Catcher in the Rye'. As an adult, understood fully, this book will serve to remind you, or make you more aware of the despair that is felt by children when love is subtly overshadowed by selfish intentions.
Children might relate to the trauma experienced by the young characters and be comforted by the fact that more often than not, they are right in perceiving that parents don't understand.
My thanks to Susan Hill for showing me how a novel is more than words and paper, and giving me the gift of literature.
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on 20 March 2004
This is a book with a disturbing ending although it certainly food for thought. It is a common belief that 'children will always get along' as Mrs Helena Kingshaw states, a character in the book meaning that their problems with each other can never be s serious that they won't one day be resolved. This book explores the true nature of the horror and evil that a child can experience at the hands of the other. The book is very rich and the actual writing is excellent. Susan Hill is very talented.
This book is a realistic gripping tale of desperation, lonliness and isolation that is possible through childhood. I strongly recommend it. This tale will linger in the mind long after it has been read and has provided me at least with a new outlook on life. however it is not for the light hearted
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on 1 August 2013
This is a fantastic book but I do not know how it was transferred into ebook format. It is absolutely riddled with mistakes from start to finish. A monkey with a typewriter could have done a better job.
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on 10 February 2013
I found this book very thought provoking, not in quite the same mould as all the other Susan Hill books I have read.
The relationship between the two boys is very disturbing and seems to drag you into their world. I can understand the comments Susan Hill makes when she says that some people hate it ( a bit like Marmite) and others like it. You can almost picture the parents and feel their desparation at their unhappy and unfulfilled lives, and their inadequate feelings for themselves and their respective children.
The ending is one of those things that you should have seen coming but pretended something better was going to happen.
It is in my oppinion a well written book even though it wasn't what I expected.
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on 16 November 2013
I don't know when this book was supposed to be set , one of the lads fathers is quite recently dead, a war hero but then felt pens were in use so very early 60's perhaps .
It's about two 11 year old boys who are made to live together , one boys mother is engaged to be a housekeeper/ servant to the other boy and his father - the boys hate one another, even running away together and facing adversity fails to bond them - and the book descends ultimately into tragedy which I won't describe here.
I disliked all the characters apart from Fielding , the farmers son who was ok but seemed a bit thick to be honest or maybe thick by today's estimation . Lack of empathy with characters is never a good place to begin and it makes books hard to read .
The Kindle edition has a lot of annoying typos - I saw it through to the end but was largely unimpressed , very stilted and of it's time , and I was born at that time too and recognised no one in the story, drew no parallels but I went to the local grammar and the author was at the local Convent in the same town which was a fee paying school , maybe I just didn't mix with " those kind of priggish , snobbish , children " , I don't know but I do know I will never bother to re- read it - and of me, that's a rare thing as I usually re- visit books - this one will be deleted and forgotten - sorry !
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on 28 November 2011
This book looks at the cruelty that other children can inflict on each other and goes against the adult thought that if you put two children of the same age together they will always `get along'. Of course similar themes were explored in Lord of the Flies, but I'm the King of the Castle takes place under less strenuous circumstances within the confines of the family home.

Edmund is an 11 year old boy who lives alone with his father after the death of his mother some years previous. Because his father is lonely himself and because he worries about his son becoming isolated, he arranges for a live in housekeeper and her 11 year old son Charles to live with them. Edmund is not happy with this arrangement and greets Charles with a note on his arrival stating `I didn't want you to come here'. What follows is nothing short of systematic bulling which quickly starts spiralling out of control.

The author has managed to quite accurately describe the feeling of claustrophobia and the menace of the house in which the boys live. The British countryside that surrounds it becomes sinister as the mist rolls in and the only birds around seem to be big black crows. The isolation and fear that Charles's experiences are felt and you despair of his situation just as he does.

Of course you may well be wondering where on earth the parents are in all this and it's a good question. Well both parents are too busy wrapped up in their own lives and are too busy making eyes at each other to really see what's going on. If this sounds a little far fetched to you then I'll refer you to the passage below between Charles and his mother;

'There are plenty of things of things for you to do, I know, plenty of games to play.'
'I want to go out'
'That isn't very thoughtful, is it? Edmund cannot go out. I wonder if you really are so selfish as to forget that?'
'He doesn't want me to stay with him all the time. He doesn't want me at all.'
Don't argue Charles dear, I'm sure you would want some would want to see a friend.'
'He isn't my friend.'
'Perhaps you would like to take up Edmund's drink dear.' For she had decided simply to ignore it, this silly, persistent talk about their not being friends. That was the way boys behaved, it was a phase.

You see how Charles's mother is just not listening to her own child. I'm sure we can all as kids remember moments when our parents `didn't listen' and throughout the book this is done in a realistic way that you begin to feel Charles's anger and frustration at his situation.

The ending is shocking but I cannot see how it could have ended any other way. Sometimes things like this don't just `blow over' as the parents in this book seem to think it will.

This is not for the faint hearted and it certainly won't cheer you up but it's chilling and frighteningly realistic.
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on 7 August 2001
Much like lord of the flies, 'I'm the King of the castle' explores the potential for evil in youth. The storyline follows a case of bullying to its inevitable end. The dominant Hopper preys on the weaker new boy Kingshaw, and Susan Hill so vividly and acurately describes their confrontations that i found myself choked with hatred for the loathable Hooper. The best scenes are when Kingshaw finds both his new found nemisis Hooper and his own ignorant mother against him, the situations are explained so remarkably and accurately (I myself have been in similar situations)that the anger and helplesness seems unexpressably real. A book with strong emotional scenes everybody can relate to make a transfixing and ultimately liberating read.
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on 11 October 2005
As a relative newcomer to Susan Hill's work, I am really impressed at the prose and eloquent storytelling incorporated into these smallish novels. In no time at all the tension, fear, and sense of foreboding is created - some novelists would take 400 pages to do what Hill manages in 50. I know that Kingshaw is the victim here but throughout the novel I was actively asking myself if the air of evil and threat of violence was being spun out of control by him, and that he was feeding and multiplying Hooper's antics. Great ending - there was no other choice.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 November 2014
An absolutely riveting, heart-rending read, that I got through in one afternoon. Totally gets into the mind of young children - the pleasure for the bully and the inescapable torment for the victim - mocked if he is seen to cry, disbelieved by his elders...

When 11 year old Charles Kingshaw and his widowed mother go to live and keep house for wealthy Mr Hooper and his similarly aged son, it seems (to the adults) an ideal arrangement. But young Edmund Hooper's relentless mental bullying of this boy he sees as an intruder is brilliantly depicted.
I started this thinking it was well written but couldn't quite see how it justified being a GCSE text - but as I got further into it, this became very evident. Fantastic read.
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on 11 May 2013
Love the story; Hill is an amazing writer but there were numerous transcription errors in the kindle version that really let it down.
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