#1 of the A Relative Invasion trilogy
“In 1937, England, the threat of war in Europe is matched by that at home for five-year-old Billy. His battle begins when he is introduced to his frail and artistic cousin, Kenneth. Adored by adults for his porcelain looks and toothpaste smile, Kenneth is a psychological bully. Smaller than Billy, although older, he displays the same emotions that allow Hitler’s rise to power – envy over strength, desire for new territory. With emotionally distant parents, a bullying uncle and a manipulative cousin, Billy starts to stutter. Unexpected challenges lie ahead and Billy must learn to meet them.”
Billy has a lot to deal with, and Ms Minett very skilfully handles the various traumas that beset this poor little boy. Bullying, parents who do not seem to care – the war itself. Today it is unlikely that any Western parents would send their child or children off to live with total strangers – I find the thought of evacuation horrifying – but then, so was the London Blitz. Billy survives the horrors that are thrown at him by crawling into his own shell, his own imaginative world where he has the protection of a special talisman.
I enjoyed the first of Ms Minett’s trilogy, and will go on to read the next two, Infiltration and Impact (reviewed on DDRevs a while ago) if for no other reason than to find out how Billy manages to survive (assuming he does!) The detail of research seems to be immaculate, and the characters and events very believable. I took to Billy, wanted to hug him throughout the book.
© Ellen Hill
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