International Writers Magazine: Childrens Books
Suspicion of Toads/ The Curse of the Toads
By Rebecca Lisle (Published May 18th)
A Gemma Roxy Williams review
had been walking for so long now that every tree or stone he passed
on the lonely lane swayed in front of his eyes. And the terrible
image in his mind-the body dangling on a rope- that was swaying
too, back and forth, back and forth, like a giant, ragged pendulum."
Young Ruben lived
happily with his beloved grandmother, Sarah Mearbeck, in the cosy town
of Birtwell Priory. He lived happily that was, until the towns
suspicions and superstitions led them to hang his cherished gran, forcing
him out of the only town he had ever known. Clutching the meager possessions
he owned, he stumbled his way along muddy lanes, pitted with holes
and peppered with stones in search of a distant town and a distant
hope of his only remaining relative.
Just as Reubens solitary journey gets off to a stumbling start,
a horse and cart come clip-clopping along behind him bringing
devious Doctor Flyte and simpleton Baggs crashing into his
life. Innocent Reuben, haunted by the legacy of the toad birth mark
on his neck, gets rolled up in the traveling business with the two tricksters.
After a series of failed attempts to escape this life of bullying and
trickery, mischievous Flyte discloses the unhappy news than Reuben is
his son. Our hero seems doomed to be stuck with these men who care for
no-one, robbing the last of poor peoples money for a medical cure
that does no more than a glass of water would. But then Flyte demands
Reuben curses old enemy Doctor Brittlebank, and eats a dreaded
and the whirlwind enters the town of Stonebridge.
Could this be the end for Reuben? Or will Flytes charlatan lifestyle
finally be put to a stop? Why does the town of Stonebridge mean something
to Reuben? And where has Shadow gone?
A Suspicion of Toads/ The Curse of the Toads takes you on a crazy
rollercoaster ride through woods and villages, from an incident with
a hook and some dreaded toads to the doom of Cals Cauldron;
all the while speckled with appearances from the mysteriously endearing
and suspiciously familiar Shadow.
An interesting take on the killing of innocents because of the suspicions
and fears of civilization; we are shown a world where white is made
black, good made evil; and at times we even empathise with the prosecutors.
Ideal for the secondary age bracket, but suitable for younger children,
and grown ups too. Be prepared to squirm with squeamishness, hold your
breath in suspense, and giggle along with the dialogue. You will have
tears pricking your eyes. You will want to shout at some of the townsfolk
and hit devious quack and fraud Flyte. And you will want
a Shadow all of your own!
Just watch out for those toads!
© Gemma Roxy Williams April 2006
Gemma Is a Creative Writing major at the University of Portsmouth
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