Lark

Those who have enjoyed the first three books of this series will be saddened by the fact that this appears to be the last. Just like the lark of the title, Anthony McGowan has created in Nicky and Kenny characters that are as captivating and vulnerable as they are rare. Narrator Nicky has a kind, clear voice, free of cynicism in spite of having had to overcome neglect at home and shoulder responsibilities far beyond what should be expected of someone so young. However, it is not his virtue that makes us empathise with him, but his honesty to reflect on life and those times when he knows he could have reacted to setbacks in a better way.

Always close to nature, this time the boys set off on a stroll across the moors. However, the trip turns to disaster as they find themselves ill-equipped for the blizzard that engulfs them. Facing one of their biggest challenges yet, they are forced to gather all of their courage simply to survive.

With short chapters and a fast-moving plot, this book is ideal for those who prefer stories they can easily get through in a sitting or two, but what it lacks in word-count it makes up for in heart and humanity. That the ending may leave many with tears in their eyes is a testimony to an author who has created a world that is magical yet peopled with the most human of characters. A world that will welcome anyone who has ever declared to those closest to them – ‘Tell me a story’.