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The bell Ange hears is the first sign that St Cuthbert - Cuddy - has unfinished business to be dealt with by the children of the present. Their quest, to assemble all his talismen and finally return him to his island, is the basis of an exciting story but what is remarkable about the book is the fluency of the shifting between times and meanings. Mayne's words create a continually shifting surface which, like the palimpsest of the opening, has past and present, real and imagined, overlaying each other. Bicycles emerge out of 'donkeys bred down to skin and bone' and monsters merge into 'feathered helicopters'. Cuddy, delicately drawn, exudes a power of goodness which tames and heals the wild Northmen of the past and the wild Jude of the present (abused like Anne Fine's Tulip in The Tulip Touch) within a narrative which mixes the everyday and the extraordinary with warmth, wit and wisdom.