DOWN CAME A BLACKBIRD by Nicholas Wilde

DOWN CAME A BLACKBIRD

Age Range: 11 - 13
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An oddly unfinished novel in which past and present mingle in the mind of an emotionally disturbed teenager, but not to any clear purpose. His mother hospitalized in an alcoholic coma, James is sent to Greville Lodge, a huge Georgian country house, with only his pain-ridden, disabled great-uncle and a chatty housekeeper for company. He soon discovers that an entire wing of the house is missing, while the grounds where it should be are wildly overgrown. In alternating chapters, another James befriends a servant, inadvertently causes him to lose his job, then accidently starts a fire that kills him. The climactic revelation that this parallel plotline is not (or not solely) James's dream but consists of the memories of his great-uncle does explain the house's physical state--but it's weak as justification for the sudden improvements in the psychological condition of both James and his great-uncle. Readers who enjoy ambiguity will find plenty (who, for instance, is the main character here?); but themes like parental abandonment and the treatment of James's antisocial behavior are merely touched on, never developed. Wilde used the idea of being haunted by guilt over a friend's death much more effectively in his intriguing ghost story Into the Dark (1991). (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1992
ISBN: 0-8050-2001-2
Page count: 182pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992