Review: Keith Brooke, The Unlikely World Of Faraway Frankie
In his four excellent novels as Nick Gifford, Keith Brooke explored worlds of the young adult where things go wrong – often seriously wrong. Filled with images of macabre seasides, factory farming, terrible schools, haunted houses and much, much more, the books were marvellous entertainment, often moving and sometimes hard hitting. In this new book, which in many respects follows on from the Nick Gifford books, Keith Brooke again portrays a world as seen by a boy. But, as ever, there is something wrong…
The Frankie of the title is a podgy, ill-at-ease schoolboy whose sister was killed in an accident and whose family is dysfunctional and terribly British. He suffers school by playing along with the bullies and trying to be funny – as do so many. But Frankie knows a secret world of the imagination where he can retreat when things get too much to cope with. One day he begins to realise that the seaside town in which he lives resembles Faraway (the name he has given his imaginary world) in certain respects, and as he explores he notices more and more similarities. His confidence increases as things begin to go his way, until he becomes almost happy in this peculiar, other world.
Of course, it can’t last. Faraway has its own rules and a mysterious Owner, and Frankie begins to learn the unavoidable law of the adult world, which is that all actions have consequences. Slowly, Faraway begins to unravel, and the people he has brought with him begin to suffer. If I explained how this happens and how Frankie copes I would spoil this involving, readable, superbly judged and perfectly paced novel… so I won’t. Suffice to say it is a marvellous tale of childhood gone wrong and an entry into the sad and sometimes inexplicable world of the adult. Highly recommended – as are all four Nick Gifford novels.
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