Usborne Children’s Books
The official web site of Usborne Publishing
by Graham Marks
Stretch Wilson's world is a hard place. All he has, since his father was taken as slave labour, is his dog, Bone - until the fateful day when he discovers something extraordinary, deep in the heart of Bloom's Mount, a gigantic pile of ancient rubbish and waste. Something that will change his life for ever.
“a brilliantly imagined epic adventure”
John Newman, Newham Bookshop
Graham Marks had his first collection of poetry published while he was at art school, studying graphic design. After a successful career as an art director he decided it was time for a change and now works as a journalist and author. He has written everything from comic strips and film tie-ins to advertising copy and novels, and he has most recently been highly acclaimed for his Young Adult books.
Graham is married to fellow journalist and author Nadia Marks and lives in London with his two sons and a cat called Boots.
Visit www.marksworks.co.uk to find out more.
Remember this…gods are like Tinkerbell, if you don’t believe in them, they fade away. But, because they’re gods, they don’t die. And if the need returns, so, too, do the objects of belief. Remember this, because it is true.
1 A BAD THING HAPPENS
Dusk fell, the light fading like a lamp running out of oil, and the temperature began to plummet. On the southern edge of the Vix territory, where it met the banks of the wide, tidal river, a boy, thin and wiry, small for his age, nervously waited for his father to return – hopefully with something to eat – to the outskirts of the shanty area where they lived.
The boy’s job, ever since his mother had died five years ago, just before his sixth birthday, was to light a fire and keep it going so they could skin and cook whatever his dad might’ve caught. But today his dad was late. And the night was no time to be out hunting because, as Stretch Wilson’s father never tired of telling him, it was all too easy to end up as prey yourself.
What was keeping him Stretch didn’t know, but in the near distance, over towards the dark, slime-covered tunnel that went under the river, he thought he heard something. He stood up from where he’d been crouched, tending the fire, and caught the sound again: raised voices and the soft thunder of hoofs. And he knew this could only mean one thing...a raiding party from the other side, from the place people called Kaï-ro.
The name, more than the cold night air blowing in from the north, gave Stretch gooseflesh. It was an evil place, if you believed all the stories that were told about it, and because of all the stories he’d listened to, it was somewhere that he’d grown up fearing more than anything. “Be good,” every child was told, “or you’ll get taken to Kaï-ro...” This threat was the seed of many a nightmare because no one ever went south by choice. And nobody who’d been taken over ever, ever came back.
Then, out of the gathering darkness Stretch saw a figure running towards the confusion of discarded rubbish, sun-bleached wood, mud bricks and weathered tarps that only a close inspection would reveal as homes, places people had built to live in. Behind the man, whose arms and legs were a blur, dust exploding round his feet as he ran, he could now see the riders; one of these men, he knew from experience, would soon be whirling a weighted net above his head. Was it his father they were chasing? He couldn’t yet see clearly enough, but he didn’t think so. Surely not. It couldn’t be, he was always so careful...always.
Stretch was torn between wanting to break cover and run to help the man who might be, could be, his dad and obeying what he’d had drummed into him since almost before he could walk. Which was that survival came first. Above all else. Everyone knew this, it was like a religious belief, and as Stretch glanced around the neighbouring
lean-tos he realized that he couldn’t see another person anywhere. They’d all got out of sight, so they didn’t end up being caught themselves. His legs appeared to make the decision for him, backing him into the shadows.
Folded into a tiny, cramped space, he watched as the leading hunter trapped his quarry, bringing him down with the net as if he was nothing more than an animal. Stretch could feel the dread and fear of capture spread its cold, cold fingers through his gut and he wanted his father there with him, now, to protect him.
Where was he? Maybe he’d heard the riders coming out of the tunnel – they didn’t seem to care who knew about their arrival as people rarely, if ever, fought back. Maybe he’d hidden so they wouldn’t get him. That had to be it. He was waiting until they’d gone before he came back. Maybe...
Then, as the last of the blood-red daylight seeped into the darkness of the horizon, Stretch had a thought that made him bite his lip so hard it bled. What if it really was his father he was watching being hauled off the ground by his hair and shackled like a beast?
Watching, and doing nothing.
Stretch saw the hunter get back up onto his horse and ride away, the man he’d caught and roped stumbling into the night after him; just before the gloom swallowed them up, Stretch saw the man glance backwards over his shoulder, and then he was gone. For a moment Stretch was quite positive the man was looking straight at him. Did he shout something? Stretch couldn’t tell as it had all happened too quickly and too far away. But all he did know for sure was that he had just witnessed a disappearance and, as a single, hot tear ran down his cheek, he felt alone in a way he never had before...
Stretch Wilson is orphaned after losing his Father to marauding raiders from the city of Kai-ro. Left to scavenge upon a mountain of waste, he makes a discovery which will change his world forever. The author delivers a diverse cast of characters around our hero that you really care about and some wonderful villains including the rather scary Everil Cleave. Together they represent the interests of Horus and Setekh two diametrically opposed ancient Gods in a brilliantly imagined epic adventure. This is a page turner which cries out for a sequel.
John Newman (Newham Bookshop), Publishing News
Graham Marks is a master at devising brilliant plotlines. He's written some superb books for very much older young adults as well as some short thrillers. This fantasy is set in a future year of 2499 but awakens gods and powers from times ancient in our own day. Across from where an ominous new city is being built, the sort of self-glorification that dictatorial regimes impose, lives a rubbish scavenger lad, Stretch Wilson. His only companion is his dog, as his father had been taken into slavery. Deep inside a veritable mountain of waste he finds something extraordinary that leads him into the new city with its half-finished pyramids. The forces his discovery unleashes are astonishing and lead to a complete reversal of the known order of things. This is a tremendous read as we follow the boy on his incredible, hair-raising journey out of the dust and despair of poverty and with the hope of the joy of being reunited with his father energising his efforts.
Boys into Books
A brilliantly imagined fantasy set in a troubled future world in which Stretch, a boy for whom simple survival is always difficult, must take on the ancient gods as they return with chaos in mind...This epic adventure is a challenging read for good readers at the top of primary school and into secondary.
Scholastic - Best Books for 2008
Brilliantly imagined, the futuristic city of Kai-ro forms a vivid backdrop to the thrilling story of one boy's fight against the ancient forces of darkness. It is a compelling story by an author at the height of his storytelling powers. Graham Marks says that the book was born out of the lasting presence of the Egyptian Gods and his two trips, one to the Egyptian section in the British Museum and the other to the Great Pyramids in Egypt. His imaginings as a consequence of his 'meetings' with a statue of a dog, of the great pharaohs and Cairo itself gave him a mind full of ideas and beliefs that have ended up in this terrific adventure.
"A compelling read. I enjoyed every minute of it."
Carly Sharp - Student's review for Lancashire Book of the Year Award
This book is full of adventures and is very exciting. I chose this book because I love learning and reading about ancient Egypt. I would give this book 5/5 and read it again because it was so good. Reviewed by Tayla, aged 12 from Milton Keynes.
Do you agree or disagree with the reviews below? Why not write your own?
Forget Tutankhamun and the golden age of the Pharoahs - buy Kairo by Graham Marks instead; a breathtaking tale of good versus evil. Horus, the ancient God of the Sky and Setekh, God of Chaos speak through two mortals, Stretch and Mr Nero, to vie for supremacy. Full of colourful characters, the need to know what happens next makes this book unputdownable - a real page turner!
Mrs J Colledge, 20th January 2008
© Copyright 2013 Usborne Publishing. Web design & Development by Semantic