A generally quiet boy, Charles Kingshaw never wanted anything but a peaceful home, but he finds this impossible when faced with the formidable force of Edmund Hooper. When Kingshaw comes to live with Hooper and his father, Hooper is determined to do anything he can to persecute his new lodger, completely unnoticed by either of the two adults. Through relentless mental torment, Kingshaw is bullied to an utter extreme; Hooper seems completely unavoidable, all-knowing and all-seeing. However, when the boys end up lost in the woods during a thunderstorm, tables turn and suddenly Hooper is the weak one, cowering and afraid in the rain and the dark. Hooper hits his head and is injured, but when they are found by the adults, Hooper continually insists that the other boys had pushed him, and just as quickly, he is back on top. This kind of continual mental anguish recurs throughout the book, as Kingshaw knows he is in the right, but Hooper is always the one who is believed. Will Kingshaw ever find a way to avoid Hooper? Or will he forever be tormented by him? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
In my opinion, this book was incredibly moving, especially from the sense of frustration that the author gives Kingshaw throughout the book. Everything is written through Kingshaw’s perspective, so we saw what happened to Hooper, we know that what happened was his fault, so we almost become the protagonist in his exasperation at the adults’ blindness to his situation. I also thought that the book had a good ending, but I won’t say too much about it as it will ruin the book! I would say that maybe it didn’t have an incredibly exciting beginning, as I remember reading the first few pages and not thinking it would be a particularly good story, but that is definitely a personal opinion so others might think differently. All in all I thought this was a brilliant book, mostly because of the way the author portrayed Kingshaw’s feelings, but also because of the great storyline and the writing. Maybe if the author was re-writing it, it would be nice to see some of, or even the whole story from Hooper’s perspective, simply because he is portrayed as a very mysterious, closed character, and we can never really know what he was thinking, so it would be interesting to see how the author would write that. However, maybe that was one of the things that made the book so brilliant, the sense of unease from our oblivion to his thought. Who knows?