This brave and charming story tackles the ever-present threat of Alzheimer’s disease, reminding readers that there are some positive elements in this distressing condition. Cosmo is devoted to his Grandfather Kevin and when, after his brother’s accidental death, his mother leaves to work in Australia it is his grandparents who take him in. He turns to advice sites on the internet to try to stop his grandfather’s mental deterioration but the authorities step in, insisting that if his condition worsens he must go into residential care while Cosmo will be sent to live with his bad-tempered uncle.
As Cosmo slides towards despair and impotent anger his Grandfather rallies briefly, giving him an ancient key to the gates of Blackbrick , a long-derelict country house, telling him that if he opens them, he will be on the other side. Convinced that his Grandfather is beyond help, Cosmo nevertheless keeps his promise and discovers, to his amazement, that the gates are a portal and he has travelled back in time to meet 16-year-old Kevin.
Fitzgerald proves herself an entertaining storyteller as events unfold in the house and Kevin’s history is revealed. Cosmo finds himself trapped in the past when the key is taken from him by the bombastic bully, Lord Corporamore but they are restored to him by an unexpected act of kindness from Corporamore’s daughter, who he later discovers to be his grandmother. His attempts to manipulate past events in order to influence the present have no effect and he cannot reverse the death of his brother but he learns important things about his ancestors and realises that even though people you love may go from your life they remain a part of you always.
This is a lively story in which a great deal happens and it is full of small surprises. It also contains a good deal of wisdom, gently dispensed and makes a significant contribution to stripping away the fear and confusion surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and its effects on lives and families.