The Hill of the Red Fox (Kelpies) Paperback – 1 Feb 2006
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'This is a boy's adventure book. It is set on Skye in Scotland and brilliantly brings to life the islands, countryside and people. It is nicely paced and the adventures in it are a cross between Enid Blyton and a young Bond.' -- Sophie, age 13, Education Otherwise, June 2006 'Allan Campbell McLean set a standard for thrillers for young readers and The Hill of the Red Fox has stood the test of time remarkably well, even allowing for the Soviet vs West Cold War background. Actually, the slight sense of innocence surrounding things is an attraction.' -- School Librarian, Summer 2006 'A magnificent adventure story. It recalls Stevenson and Buchan ... the reader should be swept away by the swift narrative, the splendid vision and the magical atmosphere of Skye which pervades the story." -- Times Literary Supplement 'The Ordinance Survey sheet of North Skye will be a stimulating aid to the reading of this novel, which has the same lovingly detailed location as McLean's later The Master of Morgana. It is an espionage thriller strongly influenced by The Thirty-Nine Steps and with tinges of the early Ian Fleming. The story, which is mainly one of male fellowship and strength, climaxes violently in the self-sacrifice of Duncan Mor, a man of Fingalian heroic stature and character. The crofting environment is integral to the action, with sympathetic descriptions of communal activities such as peat gathering, mackerel fishing and sheep shearing.' -- Treasure Islands: A guide to Scottish fiction for young readers aged 10-14, Summer 2003 'The Hill of the Red Fox is one of my favourite childhood books ... this is an altogether superior spy story.' -- Allan Campbell
About the Author
Allan Campbell McLean (1922-1989) was a master of Scottish children's writing. He had a deep love of the Highlands -- he lived in a croft house on Skye with his wife and children for 17 years -- and had a better ear for West Highland dialogue than perhaps any other author. His other books include The Master of Morgana, Storm Over Skye, A Sound of Trumpets and The Year of the Stranger.
Top customer reviews
The story line itself is exciting and his characters are people I feel I know. I can't wait until my children are old enough to enjoy this book (and his others), for themselves.
Alastairs trip up the West Highland Way on the train to Skye inspired me to make the same trip. Although I was not in an old steam engine the views, I imgine, would be very much the same.
This book is basically about the age-old story of good versus bad and although good does triumph in the end the death of one of the main characters is as shocking to me now as it was when I was 11.
If you are a child and you have to read this book for school, as I did, be grateful and if you are an adult who had missed out on this book then give it a chance now.
As a children's author now, with many novels under my belt, I can say that in terms of my own writing, The Hill of the Red Fox was an very big influence in all sorts of ways. And re-reading it is still very much a huge pleasure.
I have since reread the book more than 20 times as it reminds me of a much more carefree life when reading was my greatest passion. A great read for all ages and definitely one of my desert island possessions!!
Allan Campbell McLean's story has aged remarkably well since its first publication in 1955, and deals with difficult topics such as death, loss of a parent, stoicism and growing up, alongside the romanticised "shortbread tin" myth of life in the highlands and islands of Scotland. As well as a number of laugh-out-loud moments, many chapters end with cliffhangers, and it is no surprise that there was a BBC adaptation in 1975, although this seems to be unavailable.
We had gone to Skye to do some walking and so were able to look up Sgurr a'Mhadaidh Ruaidh (The Hill of the Red Fox) and are planning to climb it next time we are back. Skye Trotternish & The Storr ~ Explorer 408 (The Outstanding All Weather Map) is the map you'll need if you want to do the same. 50 Best Routes on Skye and Raasay is also a helpful walking companion, and Route 28 charts an ascent of the hill in question.
Highly recommended for children of all ages, and still available at a really attractive price.
The book recounts the adventures of Alasdair Cameron, a thirteen year old lad living in London with his mother and aunt in about 1955. Alasdair's father had been killed when his battleship sank during World War II. Having had a bad bout of bronchitis Alasdair is packed off to Skye to recuperate, and it is arranged that he will stay in his father's old croft in the village of Achmore. Indeed, unbeknown to him, the coft actually now belongs to Alasdair, though it is currently occupied by the dubious Murdo Beaton, a lugubrious widower who keeps himself very much to himself.
On his journey to Skye ( which McLean descibes with loving care) Alasdait encounters two strange men and gradually realises that one is pursuing the other. The man being pursued manages briefly to shake off his pursuer and clandestinely passes a note to Alasdair, but doesn't have time to offer any explanation before jumping fom the making train. His pursuer goes after him, leaving Alasdair o grapple with the riddle that has suddenly come his way.
The descriptions of Skye are gorgeous, and McLean makes the hillsides come alive, though he never lets the pace of his novel falter. Re-reading this book, and revisiting pat of my own past, was a huge pleasure!
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