I’ve just finished reading The Otterbury Incident by Cecil Day-Lewis. I don’t think I’d heard of the author before someone at work recommended and lent me the book, but he was Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in ’72, and he also wrote under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake.
The Otterbury Incident was published in 1948, and is set in a small town in England shortly after the Second World War, written from the perspective of a schoolboy named George…
“This is a really super story—I should know, I wrote it. My name is George, and I’m Ted’s second-in-command: Ted is is centre-forward of the Junior XI at King’s School in Otterbury and a first class chap. He’s the leader of our company, and the story began with our battle against Toppy’s company. We were so worked up in the excitement of victory that Nick Yates kicked a football through the big window of the classroom next to the Headmaster’s study.
“Poor old Nick! When the Head said he’d have to pay for it he looked like a puppy with distemper: he’d no hope of raising £4 14s. 6d. in a week than of going to the moon. So we signed a Peace with Toppy’s company and planned Operation Glazier to get the money for Nick. And if you want to know how it worked, and what happened after it was over, you’d better get cracking on Chapter 1.”
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve was on my ‘To Read’ list for far too long. It’s the first book of a tetralogy (The Mortal Engines Quartet, the Predator Cities Quartet, or the Hungry City Chronicles in the US. It’s a young adult novel set in the distant future, after the Earth has been ruined by the Sixty Minute War. Nations as we know them cease to exist, but cities are mounted on caterpillar tracks and fitted with jaws to chase and eat smaller cities, fitting with ‘Muncipal Darwnism’, the natural selection of city states. Mortal Engines won the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize in 2002, and the author was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 2008 for one of his later novels, Here Lies Arthur (2007).
London is hunting its prey.
Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon London will feed. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage – and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.