In 1699, William Milmullen took his six pupils to the lakeside but only he returned after a creature rose up from the water and devoured the six boys right before his eyes. The whole town was shocked and terrified by the tragedy. Many were now too frightened to go out on the lake to fish, and the town's economy was under threat. William Milmullen recovered from the shock of what he'd seen. He named the creature 'The Mourn', and declared himself 'Mourner'. He took upon himself the responsibility to appease the creature by feeding livestock into the lake and vowed his family would forever be responsible for the safety of the town, and that every Milmullen son would take the mantle of Mourner at the age of 16. This novel is set in the present day, and nobody believes in monsters anymore. These days the town is somewhat embarrassed about its monster stories and to many the Milmullen family is a bit of a joke. The family, however, have held onto their duty, believing that if they forsake the creature it will rise from the lake again. Tim Milmullen turns 16 in a week's time. On his birthday he will become the 13th Mourner. But Tim doesn't know if he wants the role.
For one thing all the kids at school tease him, calling his father crazy, saying Old William back in 1699 killed the schoolboys himself and made up the story. And Tim's biggest problem is that he doesn't know if he believes in the legend or not. How can he dedicate his whole life to something he has never seen?
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(198mm x 128mm x 18mm)
Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers UK
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Fifteen-year-old Tim will become the Mourner next week. The 13th in his family since 1699 to do so, he'll have to collect roadkill and meaty donations for the weekly Feed to placate the monster that may inhabit their English lake, although it hasn't been seen in many years, if at all. Legend dictates that these offerings will protect the Fearful, now only a small percentage of the locals, from the monster's depredations. But Tim can't force himself to believe any longer in the face of 21st-century science. This leads to conflict with his girlfriend and his family, especially his father, as he tries to find a way out of his dilemma - become the next Mourner, or tell the truth and run away - in an intriguing take on coming-of-age issues. Obvious parallels to organized religion abound throughout. A minimal level of suspense is sustained through this somewhat long but interesting effort, peopled with well-developed characters. Believable dialogue features some British slang that may confound a few readers. Altogether, an unusual and entertaining read. (Fantasy. 11 & up) (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Keith Gray
Keith was born and brought up in Grimsby and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a writer. When he received 0% for his accountancy exams he decided to pursue his dream. Since then, he has gone on to win the Angus Book Award and the silver medal in the Smarties Prize. He has twice been shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teen Prize and the Scottish Arts Council Book Award. Rave reviews about his writing have appeared in every broadsheet. Keith was a judge for the Blue Peter Book Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Bookstrust Teen Prize and reviews regularly for the Guardian. Keith is now a full-time writer living in Edinburgh.