Ruth Eastham weaves historical events through this fast-paced story to powerfully illustrate the profound impact of the distant past on the present. Aidan’s village is being invaded by frackers, intent on plundering the land to harvest its reserves, with no thought of the damage they will cause to the ancient Carrus Woods, but only of the money they will make. This is a place which still echoes to the sound of the conflict between Queen Boudicca and her Iceni warriors and the Roman army-she as hopelessly outnumbered as the fracking protesters but, like them, determined to fight on.
She died heroically, but not before she had seen her daughters slaughtered and their ghosts haunt the land, asking to be reunited in death. It is to Aidan they first appear-`wisps of bluish mist’-trying to lead him to their tombs, the only things which will halt the frackers. There have been other clues such as gentle, slow-witted Robbie’s discovery of a gold armband, clearly from a royal grave site-but these have been destroyed by an act of arson and the attempted murder of Robbie with a fast-moving car.
Aidan and his friends Jon and Emmi vow to find the site of Boudicca’s tomb and thus halt the fracking company, but time is running out. If they cannot beat this sinister ticking clock then not only will the woods and the tomb be destroyed but Aidan’s father’s job with the horses belonging to the local landowner, Lord Berryman, since the land will be swallowed by the fracking process and the horses no longer needed.
The narrative races on, full of twists and turns and thick with tensions. The three friends only discover the tomb at the very last minute, just as the frackers are about to detonate an explosion which will destroy it-and them-and the twist at the end of the book reveals a surprising villain and also an unexpected morality in Lord Berryman. This is a roller-coaster of a read, and if the ending is a little too neat and tidy, then the merits elsewhere offer ample compensation.