White Crow

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A modern gothic thriller, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

Supposing you wanted to prove something, something important. Supposing you wanted to prove, for argument’s sake, that there is life after death.

“1798, 10mo, 6d. I believe he intends to practise some unholy rite, a summoning, a conjuration. A thing of magic.”

Two lives, two centuries apart. But they walked the same paths, lived in the same house, and became obsessed by the same question.

When city girl Rebecca steps into the quiet streets of Winterfold that relentlessly hot summer, her uneasy friendship with strange, elfin Ferelith sets in motion a shocking train of events.
One of the pleasures of this dark teenage novel is the way it slowly gives up its secrets. Summarising the plot quickly risks spoiling some of this, but suffice to say this is a triple narrative. One strand is about Rebecca, an unhappy 16-year-old who comes reluctantly from London to live in the seaside village of Winterfold, trailing clouds of pain – a broken romance and a public disgrace involving her father. The second strand is the narrative of a strange young outsider she meets, who is clever, mysterious and determined to befriend her. The third is the confessions of an 18th century rector, who has visions of hell and a devilish involvement with the new master of Winterfold Hall. The voices of modern teenagers and of a man of the cloth in the 1700s are equally convincing, as these contrasting narratives converge in an ingenious story full of tension, twists and horror. Reading it is like agreeing to a dare, compelling you to keep going into a frightening unknown.
The Sunday Times
Showing his customary skill with a gothic setting and morally troubled characters, Sedgwick keeps readers guessing to the very end.
Starred review in Publishers’ Weekly
Wickedly macabre and absolutely terrifying.
Starred review in Kirkus Reviews.
White Crow is a compelling novel aimed at teens, full of secrets and mysteries… Marcus Sedgwick switches easily between three narrative voices – an omniscient narrator telling the story mostly from Rebecca’s point of view, a retrospective narrative from Ferelith, and the diaries of a Winterfold clergyman from the late 18th century who is drawn into sinister experiments. Despite its fragmented nature, the plotting is actually quite direct and focused, and Sedgwick doesn’t mess about, drawing the reader in quickly and then skilfully managing the reveal of information. Full of tension and evocative imagery, the novel’s twin narratives evade melodrama and keep the mystery going right to the end.
SFX Today
There are still gothic elements to WHITE CROW, but this feels like a new direction for Sedgwick. This is essentially a contemporary tale of two girls' friendship in a long, hot, tense summer, but it is interwoven with a 17th century tale of bizarre experiments into the afterlife. It is an original and exceptional novel of tragedy, angels, devils and friendship.
Fiona Noble, The Bookseller

There are moments at the end of White Crow that actually made my breath catch at the back of my throat. I never expected a book featuring two young girls, aimed at younger readers, to connect with me and affect me so profoundly. Yet the ending is so shocking, perfect and right, that it wouldn’t surprise me if it manages to reduce many readers to tears. This is a scary, heart-warming, intelligent book. The words of my review have in all likelihood not done it justice. Hopefully my final score will. 10 OUT OF 10

Alternative Magazine Online
Shortlisted for:
The CILIP Carnegie Children’s Book Award