12-year-old Arnie Jenks is waiting to be collected by his aunt from a school trip to the crumbling, ancient Shabbington Hall when a sudden heavy snowfall forces him to stay the night. As he wanders the corridors and rooms in search of hidden secrets he is suddenly, without warning, transported back in time.
Could he have really travelled back over 100 years? He comes face to face with a room full of Victorian servants and looks around hoping that it is some kind of historical re-enactment, but when he takes a mysterious phone call it confirms that the Victorian surroundings are real. The people suddenly vanish and Arnie is plunged into the First World War becoming part of the tale of Thomas Hodges, a boy soldier on the run for desertion. Barely drawing breath, he is then thrown onto a ship with a stranger who irrevocably has changed the life of Lady Dervela Martlesham. He finally returns to 2014 to make sense of a secret that has remained hidden for over 400 years.
Just as he thinks his adventure has no purpose, Arnie stumbles into the 1970s to grapple with the circumstances of 18-year-old Dirk locked in a bedroom, the victim of a bungled burglary. Dirk takes drastic action when another figure appears who Arnie thinks familiar – but how could he be? Before he has the chance to find out, he returns to the present day where confusion overwhelms him. The snow begins to thaw and it's time for Arnie to go home. Finally, at the eleventh hour, he discovers the truth behind his extraordinary journey as the last visitor to the house appears. To Arnie Jenks life will never be the same again...
Arnie Jenks and the House of Strangers is an action-packed novel that will be suitable for children aged 12 and above. The adventure takes the reader from the 16th century through to the present day, which will appeal to young readers who enjoy both contemporary and historical fiction.
Longlisted for the Oxfordshire Book Award 2015!