The story begins in the year 511 A.D. with Merdyn being banished from the kingdom because of black magic, but his rival Jerabo sends him down the ‘river of time’, not the ‘river of purgatory’ as his punishment; meaning that he finds himself in a 21st century shopping centre built on the spot where his trial had been held. He is obviously totally confused by what he sees and ends up being chased by two security guards. Luckily, he is saved by a young girl called Rose, who takes him home with her, but after several mishaps (including washing in the toilet basin) he ends up living in the garden shed. Rose is trying to keep her family together and hopes that winning a talent contest will help, unfortunately she is not a very good singer, so the odds are against her; she asks Merdyn for a spell to help her in return for aiding him in his attempts to get home. The whole situation is confused when Jerabo appears on the scene and tries to get rid of Merdyn, with the ensuing plot being full of laughs and fast action.
The loveable rogue of a central character, Merdyn the Wild, makes me think of the eponymous Catweazle, who was in a well-loved TV series of the 1970s. He is someone who is totally adrift in the world that he finds himself in and even the basics of life are a total mystery to him. In many ways this is a reflection of what happens when people move home even in our modern world. We are made to think about the way that society has evolved and the expectations that we have; meaning that we need to consider how we support people with differing cultures to become used to a new cultural norm. The setting of this story is in Bashingstoke, a small town just off the M3 and for someone who has lived there it bears a remarkable resemblance to Basingstoke, complete with bypasses and roundabouts. This is a reflection of the tongue in cheek humour that abounds in this story and which will appeal to the adult reader as well as the intended audience. I loved the characters and the fun in this book and hope that we will see more work from this author, who is more widely known as an actor.