Josh Lacey has written a story about the Viking raids on villages given the twist of time travel, aimed at KS2, which is not easy given the violence of the time. Twins Scarlett and Tom are staying with their grandfather who has invented a time capsule. Unfortunately, he sends Tom off without the means of returning, so Scarlett who was not keen to go, decides she must rescue her brother. Tom ends up in a Viking longship, but Scarlett finds herself with Alfred, he of the burnt cakes, in a small Saxon village about to be raided. Tom finds himself fighting in the raid on the village and using his ingenuity to rescue Scarlett and Alfred when they are captured.
It is easy to write just about the violence of the Viking raids, but the author has managed to give a good picture of the other side of the Vikings, their belief in gods, their code of honour, and especially in Valhalla. The contrast between the life of the twins in the 21st century and their experience in 859 AD is subtly drawn out and the ruse of their homework being so improved might lead children to look for a time capsule of their own! The illustrations of the Vikings and the villagers are plentiful throughout the story and there is a good historical note at the end. The only jarring note for me was Alfred saying ‘the other guy’ on p 96.
This is an exciting adventure, not glossing over the real violence inflicted on the villagers, nor the death of Orm, or Scarlett and Alfred being put for sale as slaves, and giving children a real feel for what it must have been like to live in 859 AD. Josh Lacey has avoided making fun of the history and instead made it real and exciting.