We are immersed in the drama from the opening line of this gripping novella; a teenage girl, Cassie, is missing.
The story takes place in Scotland, moving from Perth to the most north westerly tip of the British Isles, the significantly named Cape Wrath. It is set in the recent past, as worries about the climate emergency intensify and the nation emerges from Lockdown. Emotions are high during this unsettling period creating a tense atmosphere perfectly pitched for the unfolding mystery.
As the story progresses the time frame switches between the quest to find Cassie and the events leading up to her disappearance. It is told through the eyes of Fitz who gradually pieces together what he remembers in the weeks leading up to his bandmate’s disappearance and clues to what might have happened to the strange girl he has come to care so much about.
Cassie (Cassandra) has been hearing humming sounds, which seem to be coming from the Earth itself, but Fitz and her other friends cannot hear them, just like her mythical namesake she is destined not to be believed.
Has she linked up with others who like her can hear the strange sounds the Earth is making? Or has she run away because of her parents’ arguments? What has happened to her?
While the police investigation includes the now ubiquitous CCTV footage and lengthy interviews, Fitz pieces his own jigsaw of clues together from text messages, web searches and his own recollections, all the while berating himself for not foreseeing this might happen.
Budding scientists might wish to find out more about ‘The Schumann resonance,’ low frequency vibrations between the Earth and its atmosphere and the various electrical lights in the sky.
This is a multi-layered story with lots to engage teenage readers. As well as the unfolding mystery there is the insecurity of young love; the difficulties of living with warring parents; low-level bullying at school and the importance of being believed. The fact that the young protagonists and their friends are bandmates exploring innovative ways to create a new musical sound is appealing too.
The title ‘Wrath’ derives from a Nordic word meaning turning point. Reaching a turning point is key to the story, not only for the characters and their personal relationships but, it is implied, potentially for all of us in our relationship with the Earth and our attitudes to climate change.
Wrath is a powerful and thought-provoking mystery drama from a skilful storyteller, with a satisfying and hopeful ending. This would be an engaging book for all young readers, and as with all Barrington Stoke titles, aims to be accessible and achievable for those who are less confident too. Highly recommended.