Anything written by this still comparatively new author is always worth reading, with his latest novel no exception. It concentrates on 11-year-old Mouse, a boy small in stature but big in courage. Wandering away from a devastating family car crash in the deepest snow during Christmas Eve, Mouse transforms all that happens into one of the fantasy worlds he so loves to occupy in real life. Concussed and dangerously freezing, he peoples this universe with favourite toys, but there is also a villain there out for his blood. His older sister, meanwhile, finally comes to consciousness after the crash and sets about looking both for her brother and also for much-needed help in the wild, under-populated moors where she now finds herself.
Written with quiet humour, this story aims high but only hits some of its targets. Following a continually developing fantasy world where anything can happen sometimes puts a strain on those looking for clearer boundaries. The ending, without giving anything away, falls a little short. But on the plus side, Torday writes beautifully and this story is still a fine effort, going for daring imaginative stakes that more often than not come off. Less successful are too many deliberately lame couplets from a failed musician and a joke about how a toy dinosaur might speak that soon outlives its sell-by date. Full marks though for a story not afraid to take on some of the fundamentals of life while still managing to preserve the lightest of touches.