Author: Christopher Edge
Series: The Dead Ways #1
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Age Group: Middle Grade
Publisher: Catnip Books
Published: 2011 (UK)
Source: Review copy from publisher
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First sentence:As the car sped through the busy London streets, its blacked-out windows glinting in the early summer sunshine, Scott knew that something wasn’t right.
Ghostly apparitions on abandoned motorways… Corpses escaping from hospital morgues… Skeletons clawing their way out of their graves… THE DEAD WAYS ARE OPENING.
The Government has a plan to clean up the environment – closing down motorways and returning the roads to nature. When Scott Williams’ father is found dead in his government office, Scott resolves to find out the truth behind his death. What he uncovers is a far-reaching and sinister conspiracy to open ancient lines of power sealing this world from the next. As the roads close, the dead will wake. Soon Scott is thrust headlong into a deadly race against time. It’ll be the end of the world if he loses. A fast-paced supernatural thriller from a powerful new voice.
I will admit to being a little unreasonably wary of The Dead Ways before picking it up because I was worried that it might have been a little young for me as I have a history with not enjoying middle grade books because I often find the writing and story style too simplistic. However, I was not to worry. The Dead Ways is a great piece of fiction for young adults and adults alike. Okay, so there were quite a few convenient near misses throughout the novel but that’s something I just associate with middle grade fiction and thus it bothers me a lot less than when it occurs in adult fiction.
As for the writing style itself I was gripped from the very first page. The Dead Ways begins with Scott being kidnapped from outside of his school and so straight away we have a fast paced scene and questions to be answered. Why kidnap Scott? Who are the kidnappers? What is so important about Scott’s father? And though it’s a very short novel at just under 200 pages, it feels just right. The story doesn’t drag and it manages to fit everything in pretty perfectly.
I particularly enjoyed Tom’s character. There’s something about a gruff, almost-hippyish, Celtic loving, hairy middle-aged man that just makes that kind of character ultimately loveable (see: Hagrid). He was a caring father character with a few quirks and it was so easy to become attached to him.
Honestly, I think it was inevitable that I would love The Dead Ways considering how much ancient British legend and lost Celtic history was a part of the story. I’m a bit of a sucker for ancient Britain and legend. If you’re looking for a quick but highly interesting and exciting read, do give The Dead Ways a try. And follow Christopher Edge on Twitter while you’re at it!