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on 23 May 2008
This is the first Julie Myerson book that I have read and I really enjoyed it.

In the opening chapter it had the feel of a ghost story and although it wasn't one, it never really lost that ethereal quality. Seen through the eyes of a thirteen year old, the story was like that of a very dark fairytale, or the Famous Five gone wrong!

The characters were well rounded and very believable and again, the classic fairytale was evident in the form of the handsome hero, the naughty tinker bell and ever-ominous dark presence.

I didn't find the ending to be a let down and I wouldn't have wanted it to be any different, but it did make me go back and re-read some of it, in case I had missed something.

This book has made me keen to read to more of Julie Myerson's work and also to wish that I were thirteen again!
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on 22 September 2016
I literally have NO IDEA what just happened or what I just read. I don't really fully understand, though I will say it was an entertaining read. The layout of the book was strange; the way the speech wasn't set apart from the rest of the text, no speech marks at all. Still, it was easy enough to navigate.

I really do feel conflicted by the book as a whole because I feel like maybe I know what was happening but also I haven't a clue. I feel like I'm left wondering what really happened and what didn't, and I don't like being left with questions or uncertainty.

In saying that, I found myself enjoying the story, invested in all of the characters and enthralled by their weird and wonderful ways. I'm glad I read it, though slightly confused and ready for the next book, because it will annoy me to ruminate!
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`And then just when I thought nothing good or interesting would ever happen again, there he was.'

Runaway Alex appears in 13 year old Flynn's garden like one of the foxes that have visited the garden `in the middle of nowhere' and signals change in this coming of age novel. Flynn's parents split up as her baby sister was born and are at war with each other, her older brother Sam is in full adolescent revolt and Flynn spends her summer holiday looking after her sister Anna and feeling anxious.

Flynn and Sam end up joining Alex's band of runaways and escape the adult world and their mobile phones - the others are escaping foster homes and serious abuse. The novel mixes in fantasy as they find a fairy tale `buttery yellow' house which delivers what they need and there is a short idyll with overtones of something much more sinister. Myerson does this well, creating a compelling mood of psychological threat and Flynn is a sympathetic narrator. I was completely engaged for 285 pages and then very disappointed by the end which I also found just too trite; for example the happy ending for Dog was just a step too far. I don't want to spoil things for others so can't say more but it seemed as if she just ran out of steam.

I am a fan of Julie Myerson's writing and as always this is beautifully written, but I have taken off a star for that ending
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For most of the book this is a delicate and beautifully poised piece of writing, a tale seen through the eyes of a young girl on the edge of womanhood. Various older myths and stories surface in the story - the strange and haunting house, which gives and takes hints at Hansel and Gretel, the sense of trembling on the edge of meeting the first soul-mate/sexuality like a modern, female take on Le Grand Meaulnes (horribly retitled in translation as The Lost Estate - I have only ever read it in translation, but when I first read it, the original French title, the name of the 'hero' was considered good enough!) There's also a sense of menace brooding over all, from an adult outside presence, a ghostliness that also reminded me of Turn of The Screw - that sense of unseen menace which you are never quite sure is in the mind of the central character only, or is outside reality. And the little band of wild children, particularly 'Mouse' is quite Peter Pan/Lost Boys, with Mouse as the anarchic Tinkerbell.

Myerson is brilliant at getting inside the mind and heart of the damaged and fragile child and adolescent; indeed into adolescence itself, where so many identities are warring to be born within any one individual.

From about 3/4 of the way through the book I started to pull outside its spell, and began to wonder 'how on earth can she find a satisfactory end for this' - there was such a delicate poise between 'reality' and the darkly magical that it felt as if coming down on one side or the other would feel like a huge let down. And it did. No spoiler, so you'll have to read it to find out, but to me it felt like her sure touch faltered and an ending was found which wasn't in the life of the book as a whole. To be fair, I have absolutely NO idea what a satisfying ending could have been - in many ways, I think it should have LACKED a resolution, and ended in a way which left us all wondering 'is this real, is this fantasy'

Though the ending was a disappointment, the bulk of the book was wonderful.
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VINE VOICEon 27 December 2008
This is a strange, surreal, beautiful book, sort of Lord of the Flies meets The Famous Five. On the face of it, Flynn and her out-of-control brother Sam join a little group of very damaged children and they run away together. They find a perfect cottage which provides them magically with everything they need, from cake to nit combs to nappies for the baby. But, there's a dead old man in the living room, and the cottage reminded me of the witch's cottage in Hansel and Gretel. A feeling of menace and dread runs through the book, there are elements of fairy tales, horror stories and the reader is never quite sure what is real and what is simply taking place in the mind of the narrator, Flynn. She tells the tale as if it were a fairy tale, and because she is only 13, this is a touching device as is the way she convinces herself everything is perfect when it eventually transpires that everything is awful.
I liked the ending, I was glad the children's problems were resolved but two days after finishing it, I still feel unsettled. Really, this is a good book if you give it chance.
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on 30 May 2009
I first "got into" Julie Myerson about a year ago after reading "Something Might Happen" - since then I have eagerly devoured nearly everything else she has written, and although I usually buy all of my books from charity shops, took the unusual step of buying this book new. I have to say, that although I enjoyed it,it did not quite match the breathtaking brilliance of her other books, partly, as other reviewers have suggested, the rather tame, "nice" ending. Maybe Mouse should have come to a nastier ending after all!!!!!
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on 11 February 2008
This book was interesting and involving and it kept me captivated throughout - only to leave me very disapointed at the end. The characters are well drawn out and the story was well layered meaning I got involved in the characters and their story and was then just left! I think Julie Myerson fans will like it but it is not up to the standard of her previous novels.

As I said I was very disapointed with the ending. The story just stopped and the ending was contrite, way to happy and convenient.

It would be nice to hear what other people thought.
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on 16 December 2014
Original story.
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