THE BOY IN THE BURNING HOUSE by Tim Wynne-Jones

THE BOY IN THE BURNING HOUSE

Age Range: 11 - 15
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Old sins come home to roost in this taut, terrifying psychological thriller, set largely on an isolated Canadian farm. Fourteen-year-old Jim has gotten past more-than-half-serious suicide attempts and an episode of mutism in the wake of his beloved father’s sudden disappearance. But the pain is still sharp enough to leave him vulnerable when tough, wild teenager Ruth Rose suggests a connection between that disappearance and her stepfather, popular local minister Father Fisher. She herself claims to be in danger. According to Fisher, Ruth Rose is mentally and emotionally unbalanced (skittish, violent, and subject to sudden mood swings, she certainly acts the part)—but she plants a seed in Jim that grows into suspicion, as he finds revealing family photos, learns from old newspaper accounts of a fire that claimed a boy’s life, and catches hints of an ugly side to Fisher that his congregation never sees. As Ruth Rose knows and Jim discovers, Fisher makes a scary adversary: brilliant, plausible, utterly ruthless, able to play on Jim’s grief like a musical instrument. As it turns out, Fisher has more than one terrible secret to hide, but the young people here are so overmatched that the tale loses some credibility when he allows himself to be caught in a conventional climactic standoff with police. That bit of contrivance aside, Wynne-Jones (Stephen Fair, 1998) weaves a strong, sensitively observed cast, plus themes of inner conflict, unlikely friendships, and the enduring power of hate, into a powerful tale that will grip readers from start to finish. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 2001
ISBN: 0-374-30930-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2001




MORE BY TIM WYNNE-JONES

ChildrenSECRET AGENT MAN GOES SHOPPING FOR SHOES by Tim Wynne-Jones
by Tim Wynne-Jones
ChildrenTHE EMPEROR OF ANY PLACE by Tim Wynne-Jones
by Tim Wynne-Jones
ChildrenBLINK AND CAUTION by Tim Wynne-Jones
by Tim Wynne-Jones