Friday, 23 March 2012

Review: The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison

Book Title: The 13th Horseman
Book Author: Barry Hutchison
Genre: Teen Fiction
Release: 2012
Published by: Harper Collins Children's Books
Tell Me About It
In a darkly funny, action-packed adventure, fourteen year old Drake is surprised to discover the Horsemen of the Apocalypse hanging out in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they ask him to join them. The team is missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths, and they think Drake is the boy for the job.
[from goodreads]
Drake Finn is 10 years old. He is, to all intents and purposes, a normal 10 year old. I mean, sure, he may have been involved in an incident at his last school, and had to move to a new part of the city, and a new school. But still, he is just a normal 10 year old boy. Well, he was a normal 10 year old boy. Until he finds a shed in his back garden. Not just any old shed though. This shed is special, because inside, Drake happens to run across 3 special people. War, Famine, and Pestilence. What Drake soon comes to realise is that he has been chosen as the next Death. But its not exactly that simple. Drake has to learn about being a horseman, one of the 4, who will bring apocalypse upon the world. On the bright side, its an easy job, just a whole lot of waiting around. Which also, unfortunately for Drake becomes a bit harder when the old Death, the retired Death, decides that he is fed up of waiting for the apocalypse and puts a plan into action to kick start it.. Oh, Did I mention he's Ten?

 Barry does a really good job of writing the story from the perspective of a 10 year old. He doesn't dumb it down, he doesn't make it childish, but rather a good perception of the world through the eyes of a, for lack of a better term, worldly child. Drakes proffered past and the troubles that he has been through are used well to give you a perception of the type of child that he is, and the reason he chooses the actions he does, making him a very amicable character who you really can't help but like, and be drawn into his story as he  deals with his unusual situation.

The story flows very well from point to point, doing a great job of never really stopping or lulling, yet never really making me so tense I didn't want to go on, but rather doing the opposite. The flow and feel of the novel really made me want to go on, consistently and constantly. As cliché as it is to say, it was a real page turned and it really did just grab me. Barry does such an amazing job too with speech, truly getting to the language that a blunt 10 year old would use, honest to a fault, while trying to be respectful to his Mother, and his 3 new companions. Asking questions that you'd expect him to ask, and doing that delightful thing that children tend to do, and ask the questions that stump the grown ups.

There is one thing that I have to bring to the forefront for The 13th Horseman. Which would have to be the actual writing, the wordage and descriptive elements of the book are superb. A very well imagined world, and excellently expressed. It is a story which balances a hard line to follow, it does enough to visualise the world and yet not so much as to confuse the issue in your imagination. It does enough to visualise the world and build it within your head, but never too much to confuse what you may have constructed as the world and the mental visualisation of the characters, people and environments. Finally, on the writing, there is one thing that I have to mention. Barry does a truly terrific job with his wording in a few places in the book. He has, for lack of a better term, inspired moments with his turn of phrase, where certain sentences or paragraphs just made me smile, or laugh to myself.

All in all, I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick, enjoyable title, with a great journey and full of fun along the way. Aimed more at the early teen market, I would still recommend more mature readers give it a shot, because it really is an enjoyable tale of a young boy dealing with a highly unusual situation. Well written, good characters, and the horsemen themselves will have you smiling when you wouldn’t expect to. So if you like good stories, funny looks at more serious topics, or a child who you would like to read with or promote reading too, give The 13th Horseman a shot, it really was an enjoyable ride on the back of Ruin.

[Review by PKS]

1 comment:

  1. I really want to read this - I've read the prequel blog and it sounds like something I would love, fab review :D


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