The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Book Watch
A ride to remember

The Seventh Tide By Joan Lennon
Puffin books, Rs 295

Set in a variety of places and across time periods where the walls between different universes blur, Joan Lennon’s The Seventh Tide is one roller-coaster ride.

Eo, a teenager from the Western Isles of Scotland is a shape-shifter, although he doesn’t quite enjoy his lessons on the subject of shape-shifting. An epitome of self-confidence, or rather, over-confidence, Eo’s mind often wanders off to unknown territories during training classes. However, Eo never thought that not following important lectures would land him and his kind in grave trouble that would threaten their very existence.

As Eo’s careless mistake incurs the wrath of the deadly demonic Kelpies, he along with his witty professor Hurple, (who is a talking ferret), are hurled back and forth into different worlds and across multiple time zones with the ebb and flow of the mighty tides.

And in this adventure that gives way to time travelling across rapidly changing worlds and people, Eo meets a boy called Adom from the 6th century on the Island of Iowa and a girl named Jay from the 24th century in a suburb of Greater Glasgow.

The four — I say four because professor Hurple is always helping the youngsters with useful ideas to avert danger — take on the ‘beautiful and soul-sucking’ Queen of the Kelpies, demons, and other malevolent creatures who are only too eager to see Eo’s end. With the narrative picking up pace, the youngsters straddle the worlds of the Ice Age and the Neanderthals, the time of Circe and the time of dinosaurs.

Lennon has an extremely inventive style and is able to sustain it till the last page of the novel. But there are some patches of confused prose that detract from the style somewhat. There are also plenty of anecdotes that provide a brief background to the worlds the characters visit. The story abounds in wit and humour and the characters are well etched out. Professor Hurple’s short notes on the FAQs (frequently asked questions) help add a punch to the narrative.

In the end, Lennon’s The Seventh Tide is a captivating work of fantasy and adventure. The demons reflect a suitably dark, bleak and violent world, determined to destroy Eo’s world. The theme centres on the eternal struggle between good and evil and how the good has to overcome numerous hurdles before emerging triumphant.

All in all, the book is an interesting read — a wondrous ride that has the capacity to hold its readers tightly in its grip.

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