Books by Tim Bowler

BURIED THUNDER by Tim Bowler
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 15, 2011

"Horror with heart. (Horror. 12-15)"
This spine-tingler plunges into the stuff of nightmares. Read full book review >
BLADE by Tim Bowler
FICTION
Released: June 1, 2010

Pain, silence and darkness greet Blade as he wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of how he got there. He doesn't have time to figure out this mystery because he's still on the run from a slew of enemies. Wanted for a variety of crimes, he has to keep a low profile. Moving from one safe place to another, he reconnects with the gang he encountered in the first book (Blade: Playing Dead, 2009). He also develops his relationship with Mary, a senior woman he was falsely accused of injuring. Mary's story, that she is also on the run from her past, allows an unusual bond to form with Blade. As in the first book in the series, Blade addresses the reader directly with the name "Bigeyes" and peppers his speech with British slang. Bowler combines the slow unveiling of Blade's past with short chapters and nonstop action to create tension and suspense. Some major plot twists at the end set the stage for book three. (Thriller. YA)Read full book review >
PLAYING DEAD by Tim Bowler
FICTION
Released: May 1, 2009

Fourteen-year-old Blade (aka Slicky) is a smart homeless kid who gets caught in many wrong places at a lot of wrong times. He's been on the run from the police since he was seven, sneaking into houses and stealing people's wallets to survive. After an attack from a girl gang, he both witnesses and is accused of multiple murders. On the run from both the girl gang and the boys who murdered their leader, he joins up with Becky, a 16-year-old mother who is trying to get away from the gang. Although he has always operated alone, Blade decides to let Becky and her daughter accompany him as he attempts to bring justice to the murderers. The action is fast-paced, but the book is thin on character development and the ending lacks resolution, perhaps because it is the first book in a series. Much about Blade's present but little about his past is revealed, which may entice readers to pick up the sequel if they don't put this book down in frustration. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
FROZEN FIRE by Tim Bowler
FANTASY
Released: June 1, 2008

Shimmering suspense and atmosphere highlight Bowler's trademark mysteriousness. Dusty answers the phone late at night and hears a stranger announce, "I'm dying." He isn't (though he wants to be), and he knows intimate details about her that no one should know. Furthermore, he implies knowledge of Dusty's brother, who vanished two years ago. When she realizes he's calling from a nearby park, she tracks him through the snow until his footsteps disappear. People across the country have seen this boy, and vigilantes pursue him for alleged rape; he may be made of snow or fire, and he knows everyone's secrets. Dusty searches for the entrancing boy despite the townspeople's fury, her father's distress and her own instinctive feelings of peril. A dangerous, gleaming brightness (possibly the same metaphysical matter as the boy) threatens to transform Dusty into frigid fire. The enigmatic whirl of events ends with a blend of closure and persevering questions; readers who liked Firmament (2004) but found Apocalypse (2005) too cryptic will want to return to Bowler for this one. (Fantasy. YA)Read full book review >
APOCALYPSE by Tim Bowler
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Bowler uses both archetypal and original imagery in this dismal apocalyptic tale. In the opening scene, unidentified figures row off an island in darkness, find a man on an offshore rock and bludgeon him with clubs. A "long, eerie moan" sounds from underwater. Fifteen-year-old Kit, sailing with his parents, hears the moan—which becomes the first of many foreboding signs and violent events. While reaching for a tiny carved boat in the sea that's grasped from underwater by a full-grown man with Kit's own face (including ugly birthmark), Kit sends their boat crashing off-course to wreck on the island. On the island live violent religious zealots determined to kill Kit and the look-alike man. Kit's parents disappear and Kit meets an outcast girl. Pursuit and torture (including crucifixion) are relentless. Is the look-alike man God? Is he the Devil? Is Kit? Apocalypse is averted—barely; explanations remain cryptic. Grimly haunting. (Fantasy. YA)Read full book review >
FIRMAMENT by Tim Bowler
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: April 1, 2004

A gripping page-turner of immense and surprising beauty. Fourteen-year-old Luke has been in a bad state for two years, since "Dad died and the light of his existence went out." He's bitter and angry, in trouble at school, and under the thumb of a gang. Their pressure to break into an old woman's house leads Luke to discover Natalie, a hidden ten-year-old girl with a mental age of four. Natalie sobs and screams all night long; Luke hears it even from afar. He also hears "the sounds of fields and hills and hedgerows" and other sounds "that seemed to well up from deep inside him: a buzzing sound, a harp sound, a bell sound, and, all around his head, a sound of rushing water." Like Dad, Luke's a musical genius with a "deep ocean roar rolling inside him and around him." He needs to save Natalie; he needs to escape the murderous gang; and he needs to make friends with the sounds inside him. Mystical, desperate, and deeply affective. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
STORM CATCHERS by Tim Bowler
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: May 1, 2003

From the chilling opening, when Emma, 13, is kidnapped, to the stormy conclusion, this ominous story will keep readers guessing. Her kidnapping stuns and bewilders Emma's family; her 15-year-old brother Fin is guilt-ridden because he wasn't at home and her three-year-old brother Sammy compulsively talks to invisible beings. Effectively told from the viewpoints of Emma, Fin, and Sammy, the motive of the teen kidnapper is slowly entwined with a dark family secret. Desperate to find Emma, Fin uses a dowsing book to create a pendulum with Emma's gold ring and a strand of her gold hair that he holds over maps to locate her. Oddly, the pendulum only responds to Sammy's touch, pointing to the deserted lighthouse on the verge of collapsing into the sea. Tension builds dramatically as the theme of climatic storms parallels the storms brewing within the family. Spanning just four days, the drama is packed with suspense elements: a spooky lighthouse, a child with ESP, ghosts, infidelity, blackmail, cracks in the family cement—Bowler has skillfully crafted them into a compelling story. (Fiction. 12-16)Read full book review >
RIVER BOY by Tim Bowler
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2000

Jess's grandfather, a noted painter, has suffered a heart attack. Grandpa insists his family carry on with plans to take him to his remote childhood home, obsessed as he is with finishing a painting titled "River Boy" in which there seems to be no "boy." Arriving at their vacation rental on the river, Jess begins to feel the presence of, and soon sees, a mysterious boy she calls the River Boy. Says the enigmatic young man, "If your grandpa died fulfilled, would you bear his loss better?" He then advises Jess to help finish the painting by being Grandpa's hands. The River Boy himself needs Jess's help. He wants to swim the river from source to sea and, fearful of swimming alone, wants Jess to swim with him. As the River Boy materializes from mere presence to actual boy, Grandfather fades. Then, the painting finished, he dies. The journey to the sea completed, the River Boy also vanishes at the moment of Grandpa's death. While the writing is quietly poetic, the theme universal, and the metaphor of the river that flows from source to sea apt (if not entirely fresh), the story does not compel. Thoughtful readers will easily predict that the elusive boy is Grandpa and that the death will be timed to coincide with the boy reaching the sea. Readers who do not, though, may tire of the repetitious family dithering over an old man who is tyrannical, emotionally remote, and self-absorbed. Sadly, his decline makes for reading more painful than engrossing. (1998 Carnegie Medal) (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
MIDGET by Tim Bowler
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

A teenager frees himself from his older brother's surreptitious abuse and his own physical deformities in this psychological thriller. After years of enduring nocturnal taunts, Joseph has grown to despise his twisted, seizure-prone body and brother Seb in equal measure; watching the boats off shore and in the local boatyard provide his only comfort. When, to his delight, an old boatwright wills him a small sailboat, Joseph discovers his ability to anticipate, and even control, wind and wave. He wins several races, infuriating Seb, who attempts to murder Joseph. Does Joseph hate Seb enough to kill him? After engineering an accident that leaves Seb close to death, he realizes that he has committed an evil act. In a wrenching final scene, Joseph finds peace by trading his own life for Seb's, a resolution more shocking than just. Bowler becomes a different writer when his characters are on the water, envisioning and describing races and other marine episodes more vividly than incidents on land. Joseph is a compelling figure, unable to read or write, virtually unable to speak, but sharply alert and—in the course of his first-person narration—articulate about his feelings. Seb is less convincing, not as scary as the publically genial, privately vicious abusers in books such as Kristen Randle's The Only Alien On the Planet (1994), but that hardly detracts from this unsettling work. (Fiction. 11-15) Read full book review >