Jan's Reviews > White Crow

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick
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's review
Jul 01, 2011

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bookshelves: teenbooks, horror-fiction
Read in July, 2011

This is a darkly compelling story about a young teen named Rebecca who moves to a seaside village named Winterfold with her father, a police officer who is in disgrace for causing a wrongful death. Rebecca is less than enchanted with the village, but meets a strange girl named Ferelith who is rather insistent upon becoming friends. Ferelith lures Rebecca into some "dares" that provide a much needed sense of excitement for Rebecca, who is bored by her current environs. The book features two contemporary narrators--Rebecca and Ferelith--and also goes back in time to 1798 for the third narrator, the rector of the Winterfold church. The rector becomes involved in a diabolical experiment with a new resident, an emigre fleeing the horrors of the French Revolution. They devise an experiment to try to learn what happens at the moment of death and if that might signal whether one goes to heaven or hell. Ferelith finds the site of their experiment and as one of her "dares," compels Rebecca to sit in the chair used in the experiments long ago. Neither of them realize that the chair is a death trap, although the more potent danger may come from the fact that the site itself is about ready to slide into the sea.

The story has a wonderful gothic atmosphere and intriguing characters. It raises interesting philosophical issues about death and the afterlife, the limits of science, and the aftermath of grief.
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