Out of the Dark

Welwyn Wilton Katz, Author
Welwyn Wilton Katz, Author Margaret K. McElderry Books $16 (0p) ISBN 978-0-689-80947-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 185 pages - 978-0-88899-262-8
Hardcover - 185 pages - 978-0-88899-241-3
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A boy's coming to terms with the death of his mother is the crux of this slow-paced but thoughtful story. Ben's father attempts to start a new life by moving from Ottawa to a small, coastal town in Newfoundland. To 13-year-old Ben, however, the move means a further loss of the familiar; furthermore, the townsfolk seem insular, suspicious and, in many ways, backward. A local historical Viking settlement, L'Anse aux Meadows, proves at first a worthy diversion but soon fuels an obsessive game that Ben plays out entirely in his imagination, casting himself as Tor, a Viking shipbuilder. Katz (Time Ghost) alternates Ben's real life with scenes from the Tor game, which are based on Ben's reading of the Vinland sagas and passages from Norse mythology. Unfortunately, the formality in language, the myriad Scandinavian names and uneven story lines make the Tor scenes difficult to follow. Ultimately they serve as little more than regular interruptions to Ben's ""real"" story, which is resolved in a powerful final scene--perhaps the book's finest moment, and one worth waiting for. Ages 11-14. (Sept.)
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