by Marcus Sedgwick (Author)
Marcus Sedgwick, winner of the Branford Boase Award for his first book, Floodland uses World War I as a setting for his latest book. The foreshadowing of the title refers to the gift/ curse experienced by the narrator, teenager Alexandra Fox. Like the seer Cassandra of Greek myth (with whom she empathises), Alexandra can prophesise certain events in the future, but her uptight, straight-laced family aren’t keen to believe her warnings. She foresees the death of her brother edgar (an army captain in France) but is powerless to prevent it, so that when she foresees her second brother’s death (again in France), she runs away as a volunteer nurse to find and rescue him on the battlefield.
Together with Hoodoo Jack – an army messenger also gifted with foresight – Alexandra engages in a desperate race to change time.
Sedgwick’s style is sparse and poetic – and unflinching when it comes to evoking the horrors of war. Through Alexandra, the social position of women at the time is examined, as is the issue of class, and of war generally.
This is a thought-provoking, well-researched and haunting book: Sedgwick is a master at sustaining tension and the story gathers pace as it unfolds, holding the reader in suspense. Sedgwick is especially strong when the action moves to France, his descriptions of life around the battlefields are particularly well-drawn and evidence of the historical research that went into the writing of the book. His depictions of wounded men are graphic and harrowing, perhaps unsuitable for sensitive readers. Overall, this is a gripping and exciting read that really builds up speed after the first few chapters.