Beverley Birch chooses a book that embodies the power of the imagination.
I admire so many books, but one that I feel ‘oh, I wish I could write like this, I wish I’d written this’, is J.P. Buxton’s I Am the Blade. He ensnares you in his world. Places live and breathe as characters. It’s breakneck adventure, terrifying, often wryly humorous. I travel every step with Tog – hearing, smelling, sensing from the opening: he and his woodcutter guardian in their hut, that fear when the stranger knocks at the door. Such speed in launching us into the story, such vivid characters! I’m propelled with Tog into the freezing landscape, running for his life, because there’s a man with a knife behind him, always behind him, and he doesn’t know why.
Buxton transforms the Arthurian myth to an urgent whisper in a teenage boy’s life. In shock, in a freezing landscape, surviving by wits and fighting skills (learned, but never tested), with the odd companions he gathers. Slaves on the run, Roman merchants (can they be trusted – who is really as they seem, who his friend, who is foe?) The quest, or destiny, ahead only dimly perceived, fed by the dying words of his woodcutter guardian, STONE, ORCHARD, MOON. Depth, insight, mystery, riveting adventure, powerful fight scenes, all threaded in that bitter, brutal landscape. Wonderful!
Critically acclaimed and translated into more than a dozen languages, Beverley Birch is the author of novels, picture books, narrative non-fiction and retellings of folk-tales and classic works. Her new novel, Song Beneath the Tides, is published by Guppy Books, 978-1913101077, £12.99 hbk.
I Am the Blade by J.P. Buxton was published by Hodder Children’s Books, and is now only available in eBook.