Liam moves to the country with his family when his grandmother goes into a nursing home. His grandmother suffers from dementia and at one point declares that she will kill him; she has done it before and she will do it again. At night he is drawn to the disused church by his cottage and is fascinated by a huge bird like gargoyle. When he finds his grandmother’s childhood diary the mystery both opens up and deepens.
This is a well told story, brimming with both realism and magic. It draws us into a world where we believe that gargoyles can come to life and obey our wishes, even our most dark desires, to protect us. We are also presented with a real, contemporary world filled with the problems that many children face: a sick grandmother, moving house, a mother finding comfort in ‘wine o’clock’, a rebellious teenage sister and school bullies.
The story is narrated for the most part in the first person, which lends immediacy to the narrative; we go with Liam on his journey and discover the magic and fear at the same time as he does. It is also interspersed with his grandmother’s diary and her hope and fears after her flight from wartime Paris. All the characters are well drawn and all have depth. By the end you even have some sympathy with the bullies but the author does not give us some sugar-coated redemption. A good read with an engrossing plot.