An utterly absorbing and compelling novel; a gulp in one sitting read.
I Hear You Calling follows the story of nine year old Richard, a medium who's trance states are scaring his fellow students and teachers in his British primary school. His head teacher wants him to stop but his father, a member of a Spiritualist church, says they are persecuting him for his religious beliefs. The only option seems to be permanent exclusion from school. Enter Rae, a damaged education officer who is immediately at odds with Richard's parents and completely disbelieves that Richard is for real.
As the story unfolds questions are raised as to what is possible in the realm of Spiritualism. As well as forcing the reader to confront some issues as to what is possible and what is impossible the novel is a gripping tale combining mystery and thriller elements to create a page turning yarn. Short and easy to read I Hear You Calling is a good choice for fans of the Richard and Judy Book Club, as it's tone and timbre puts me in mind of previous picks such as A Song for Issy Bradley and the Land of Decoration.
Having received a copy of the book from Netgalley, I read it with "the reviewer" head on, which means that as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn't help but find criticisms. The book is told from alternative character view points and I have to admit that I wasn't sold on Richard's voice. It didn't ring true as a nine year old boy for me. However, giving the benefit of the doubt, I'm not sure how a nine year old medium would sound. Although the character speaks often of playing with friends and a passion for football and is portrayed as normal child with extraordinary things happening to him maybe his situation would affect his language and vocabulary. I do also think that in the climax of the book his behavior is that of a typical nine year old and his acting out against his father in some of the final scenes was nicely done.
Another personal "lack" (not as strong as that really) is that the author has obviously done a lot of research into the Spiritualist church and how it works and I would have liked to know more about that aspect of the story. That's a personal choice though as I find religions and societies fascinating. I'm not sure that throwing a lot of information not pertinent to the story line would have really added to it, and some of the tension and tautness that kept me turning the pages would definitely have been lost.
A gem of a debut novel. I highly recommend this book as an afternoon filler over the long Christmas break.
by NetGalley reviewer
A delightful original book that warmed my heart!
Young Richard has a gift - he is able to pass messages from the dead to the living - but school aren't happy that he sometimes shares his gift and in turn gets called weird . His parents struggle to support their son and Rae is called in to try to mediate between the school and family. A wonderful story unravels which captured me from the start. Sad - emotional and enlightening - read it!!!
by Maria MacKenize