DISCLAIMER: THE WRITE READS AND Lightning books PROVIDED ME AN e-ARC OF THE NOVEL The other side of the whale road BY K.A. Hayton IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.
Summary I got from Goodreads:
How dark were the Dark Ages?
Joss is about to find out…
Shortlisted for the Chicken House Competition
2 SEPTEMBER 2021 * PAPERBACK * £8.99 *
AGE 12–15 * ISBN: 9781785632815
YOU KNOW HISTORY IS REAL WHEN IT’S RAZOR-SHARP AND AIMED AT YOUR NECK THE STORY OF KING EDMUND’S LAST BATTLE WITH THE GREAT HEATHEN ARMY BROUGHT TO LIFE FOR YOUNG ADULTS
‘The Vikings are better armed than we are. They have long, heavy axes that can take a man’s head from his shoulder. I know this because I see it happen.’
When his mum burns down their house on the Whitehorse estate, sixteen-year-old Joss is sent to live in a sleepy Suffolk village. The place is steeped in history, as Joss learns when a bike accident pitches him back more than 1,000 years to an Anglo-Saxon village. That history also tells him his new friends are in mortal peril from bloodthirsty invaders. Can he warn their ruler, King Edmund, in time?
And will he ever get home?
Other helpful link: Eye / Lightning Books
Author’s bio from the publisher’s website:
As an RAF child, K.A. Hayton grew up in various parts of Europe, arriving in England just in time for the winter of discontent.
She spent her first year of an English degree at Sheffield University studying Anglo-Saxon poetry, which sparked an enduring interest in the Dark Ages. She trained as a nurse, now works as a health visitor and is also a magistrate. She has two grown-up daughters and lives in rural Suffolk, very close to Sutton Hoo, with her husband and a Hungarian rescue dog.
She is a keen runner, sea-swimmer and supporter of Ipswich Town FC. The Other Side of the Whale Road is her first novel.
Is this really it? There are only one hundred or so pages? Is this real?
What I like about it (or what’s not to like?)
A perfect imperfect character, Joss is a natural escapist. What happened in his past, he acknowledges but tries to stump as if they were nothing and shouldn’t touch him, but they influence how he sees his real world. He finds his new surroundings dull and boring. The struggles he encountered has numbed him from what good things real life has to offer that when beauty and kindness are offered to him, he thinks they are insincere or that he doesn’t deserve any of them.
The contrast of how he easily acclimitizes to the Anglo-Saxon village, Haegelisdun, as opposed to his new environment, Hoxne, is striking. When everything is too much, Joss manages to escape to a different world where, he perhaps can make a difference. He doesn’t hesitate to try and get along with everyone, Leofric, Merwanna, and even Wuffa, to survive. It must have been difficult coming from the conveniences of the new world and getting used to how things are done in the past yet he manages to. This alternate universe offers a lot more to him apart from modern medicine and toothpaste that when he goes back to his new environment, he doesn’t show as much enthusiasm.
Alice as Joss’s muse is the epitome of Beauty he wants to have that he can touch but has to let go for fear of spoiling it. I find it endearing that Joss’s savior isn’t Alice but himself and that he proves himself worthy, not to Alice’s parents, but to himself, his own nemesis.
I’m also impressed with how Joss going back to Haegelisdun has been handled. Given the sensitive issue that is (TW) suicide, having a character jump off a cliff to his death for no other reason but to save his Alternate Universe friends wouldn’t have been wise.
History isn’t my cup of tea and although I am not familiar with King Edmund’s (The Martyr if I’m not mistaken) fate, this book has made it easy for me to understand what kind of king he was or how history wanted to portray him.
What I immensely appreciated is despite being fortunate enough to be taken by a well-to-do husband and wife, Joss can never be fully ok. So many things have happened to him that are beyond the control of a 16-year old. However, he is on his way to recovery and the fact that he realizes this and owns his responsibility for his decisions make him a powerful character to me.
My Thoughts on The Other Side of the Whale Road
The Other Side of the Whale Road is a short piece leaving me wanting for more but that’s a part of its charm. It’s masterfully written and I’m happy that the plot wasn’t extended that it felt forced. Heck, I even adore how the words of pompous characters have been capitalized e.g. One Last Chance to show how much emphasis they put on their own words as facade. I cannot promote nor rave about this novel enough.