A SERPENT'S TOOTH by Robert Swindells


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As in Fine's novel (above), a preteen tells how her mother's involvement in an antinuclear demonstration causes family dissension. But, here, unfortunately, Swindells brings in more contemporary plot strands than he can convincingly meld. Though Lucy and her mother moved unwillingly to Yorkshire--where uptight, career-oriented Dad (a librarian!) has an important new job--Mum is already involved in a sit-in on the site of a proposed nuclear dump at Pit Field near their home. When she spends the night there, Dad locks her out; Lucy joins Mum. Meanwhile, Lucy--who knows herself to be prescient--has been having visions of people with carts. After the thoroughly disagreeable authorities finally succeed in digging a hole in Pit Field, it is found to contain a mass grave for 14th-century plague victims (hence Lucy's visions). Rumor--of a new plague infection--runs a brief course; as it dies down, people realize that nothing is buried forever. Almost no one comes off well here--Mum is irresponsible about Lucy, the villagers (even the schoolchildren) are virulently anti-activist, and Lucy's new boyfriend invites her to a party where there are drugs and she is arrested--without furthering the plot. Worst, the analogy between the bones and the nuclear waste is false (the old bones are not dangerous); thus, the author fails really to address a genuine issue about which he is presumably concerned.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1989
Page count: 136pp
Publisher: Holiday House