The Road of the Dead

The Road Of The Dead by Kevin Brooks (2006), shortlisted for the 2007 Carnegie Medal.

I knew from the first sentance that this was going to be Dark.

"When the Dead Man got Rachel I was sitting in the back of a wrecked Mercedes wondering if the rain was going to stop."

Ruben has always been able to feel things other people can't. Even though he is in London, miles from his sister, he feels it when she is raped and murdered on a rainy night far away on Dartmoor. Three days after his family hears officially that she is dead, fourteen-year old Ruben and his older brother Cole set off to bring her body home. But the police won't release her until their investigation is closed, and Ruben and Cole decide to travel to the remote village where Rachel was last seen alive to find out exactly what happened.

Nasty things are going on in that village, and soon the boys are caught up in a deadly tangle of violence and greed as they follow the ancient road of the dead across Dartmoor. It becomes clear that Rachel's death was not the work of one sick individual, and Ruben begins to wonder just how far Cole is prepared to go to find out the truth. And what he himself might be willing to do, for Rachel, and for his brother.

"I looked down at the hallway again. The doors were still closed, but I could feel something happening now. The silence had changed. It was a silence about to be broken. Then one of the doors slowly creaked open--and I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger." (p 240)

In a series of nutshells: Suspenseful and creepy. Violent. Lots of action. A remote gothic village, with a handful of very nasty people (a rather un-nuanced "gallery of bad guys). A slight subplot involving a gypsy girl. A bit of thought provoking-ness about what it means to deliberately decide to commit violent acts.

The first half of the book--the journey from London to Dartmoor, the set-up of the mystery, Ruben's psychic powers, and the relationship between the two brothers--was engrossing. Things got a bit much for me when the book became pretty much non-stop danger and violence and guns going off, and so, in a gender stereotype way, this is one I'd more happily recommend to a "boy" than to a "girl." Unless, of course, she's a girl who likes murder/thrillers in which lots of people get hurt.

Here's another review, at Vulpes Libris, with lots of interesting stuff in the comments.

postscript: I read this thinking it would fit into my on-going fantasy/science fiction way of blogging, but Ruben's paranormal abilities are so overshadowed by the mystery and mayhem that I'm not even going to label it as anything other than YA....


  1. ohh I think this sounds really interesting. I need to read something by Kevin Brooks. His books always seem good.


  2. Thanks for commenting! This was the first book by Kevin Brooks I've read, so I'm not at all sure if it's in any way typical of his writing...

  3. You should try reading iBoy and Naked, they are quite good books too


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