A defiant 15-year-old's attitude is changed by the terrifying reenactment of a tragedy--one that took place years ago in a...

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THE BURNHOPE WHEEL

A defiant 15-year-old's attitude is changed by the terrifying reenactment of a tragedy--one that took place years ago in a now-abandoned lead mine near her English village. Ellen is at odds with her bossy mother; with Dad, who seems to abdicate responsibility; and with Gran, who clings to working-class habits with embarrassing tenacity. Ellen has the habit of masking her vulnerability with contempt; still, she is intrigued by Dave, who shares her interest in an old mine to which a mysterious bus takes her. Finding an old photo of Gran's that is a duplicate of one that Dave has brings the two of them together--not only do Dave and Ellen have the same surname, but the two young men in the photo bear a close resemblance to them. After they have a terrifying shared dream, the strange bus again carries them, at midnight, to the mine; there, they are drawn into a repetition of events that once led to a murder. This time, the tragedy is averted as Dave's generosity and Ellen's heroism replace the greed that doomed their long-ago relatives. In this first novel, Gates has a good grasp of her setting and makes Ellen's disaffection painfully believable. But she explains more about Ellen's relationships with her family than is necessary (especially since she also demonstrates them); and while each episode holds attention, the fantasy's structure lacks cohesion--the significance of the wheel is vague, for instance, and the bus is an awkward device, not well related to anything else. Still, a commendable, interesting (if uneven) effort.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 1989

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1989