Book review: The Edge of the World, John Gordon

‘The Edge of the World’ is a fantasy novel for young adults, and turns phrases well enough to turn heads.

It follows the story of Kit and Tekker, who discover that they are able to enter a parallel universe by any form of telekinesis – that is, moving objects with their minds. Whereas they live in the english fens, the parallel world is a barren red desert, inhabited by the terrifying ‘horseheads’. These creatures are really one to populate your nightmares, having empty horses skulls, but stalking on two legs like a man.

Kit and Tekker are forced into an adventure in the new world as they race to save the soul of Dan, Kit’s brother, who has been kidnapped by the sinister Ma Grist, controller of the horseheads.

While in some ways a traditional adventure story, I found ‘The Edge of the World’ really original in it’s world creation, and the relationship of Kit and Tekker as young teens finely balanced. The slight tension between them being friends as kids, but that starting to develop into attraction is handled very well.

The best thing about this book though, apart from the continuously inventive world creation, is the occasional phrase which is perfectly crafted, without getting too heavily literary. For example:

“He was scurrying like a mouse when the sobbing of the wingbeats overtook him….The bird angled as they turned to run in front of it. They heard it’s wings sigh and roar as it raced them. The rocks were still ahead when its shadow engulfed them in a black cave and a pulse of hard air flattened them.”

“‘My trade. French polisher. Spent most of my life putting a shine on things and that’s a kind of deception. It can fool you. Look at the top of this table and you don’t see a table. There’s the window, see?’ He pointed at its reflection. ‘And the ceiling. And then deeper down a kind of darkness, like a pool. Deep. Dark. Anything could be there.’

Kit wanted him to stop. She could see the darkness, but the pit was in the old man’s mind, dragging her in.”

“A wall of sheer glass rose straight upwards – a sheet so pure it was like clear water falling from the roof of the sky, but hanging motionless like time stopped, burning with a burst of sun at its base but glistening so high overhead it could have been stars. It had a knife-edge. It seemed too tall to stand. It seemed to sing with the sheer effort of standing in the sky.”

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone from the age of about 8 upwards. It’s fast paced and exciting, and John Gordon does a terrific job of immersing you in his alternate world.

My rating: Four and a half stars.

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