THE SCARECROWS by Robert Westall
Kirkus Star


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The psychological clearly dominates the supernatural element in this latest and most tightly integrated of Westall's highly charged and textured chillers. Even before his widowed mother's remarriage, 13-year-old Simon is possessed by murderous ""devils"" when a sadistic schoolmate teases him abour her unwitting flesh exposure during a tennis match. He is intensely, irrationally agitated when she marries paunchy Joe Moreton, a renowned caricaturist but a ""yob"" in Simon's schoolmates' language and ""not gentry"" according to a local ancient Simon meets in the field near Joe's large country house. The same old man tells Simon of a bitter love-triangle murder enacted in the 1940s in Joe's very house and in the nearby, abandoned mill which gives even Joe the creeps. The empty mill with its three hung-up coats and hats both fascinates and terrifies Simon, and after his conversation with the old man those same coats and hats turn up outdoors as scarecrows. They seem to advance on Simon and the house as his own behavior toward his mother and Joe becomes more and more outrageous. (Hamlet in his mother's chamber might be Simon's model in cunning and Oedipal outrage.) As the inner and outer tensions pass the point of no return, a friend's clear-eyed insistence helps Simon to confront the scarecrows; and this final, heart-pounding destruction of the externalized terrors purges Simon's devils with the force their hold on him requires. Powerful currents, powerfully contained within the bounds of a hard-packed juvenile fantasy.

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 1981
ISBN: 0099482347
Publisher: Greenwillow