‘A Fistful of Feathers’ is Linda Jones’ debut children’s novel. Thirteen year old hero Jo is an orphan who has been raised by a series of unpleasant foster families under the pay of the sinister Dr Bowden. Jo has a mysterious and painful growth on his neck that slips down to his back, causing him even greater agony. This is when his unhappy life takes a sudden turn. Aided by a school friend Dan, he manages to run away from his awful foster parents and the clutches of Dr Bowden. This is when his real story begins and when his life truly begins to unfold.
This is a gripping page-turner of a book. The tension is effectively maintained with short chapters, which also will make it is easier for younger children. This is a thriller written for children with interesting twists that children 10+ would enjoy as well as Young Adults. There is death and danger aplenty as Jo struggles to keep hidden from Dr Bowden’s henchmen. However it is also an uplifting tale of friendship, as Jo’s new friends help him to discover at last how to be a normal teenage boy. Well, as normal as a boy can be with giant wings growing out of his back.
Jo demonstrates a great deal of courage, particularly in the early part of the book when he struggles to survive alone with very little money and supplies and at the same time having to deal with terrible pain. He is unaware at this stage what the mysterious growth actually is. That fact is revealed to him by Dan’s startled father. At this point in the story Jo finds himself in a strange position. He is surrounded by people that care about him and want to protect him, which is something he has never experienced before. His wonderful friend Dan, who has all the characteristics of a normal teenage boy, helps Jo to accept his strange affliction. The Fraser family soon have Jo fully under their care and Jo grows in confidence. They journey to Scotland, ostensibly as part of a youth club trip to a Judo competition. However Jo’s enemies are never far behind. It is a case of teenage children outwitting dangerous criminals and it all leads up to a satisfying climax.
Judo and other martial arts play a significant part in this story and there are many wonderful and detailed descriptions of it. I feel quite inspired myself to take up the sport! I asked the author was she an expert herself or did she have to do a lot of research? She told me:
‘The martial arts elements did involve some research, the Escrima especially, but both my children did judo for a year or so, along with tai chi. Even I did a few sessions of tai chi and I wish I’d kept it up! My son really benefited from the Katas in judo, and all the repetitive training (he also has developmental dyspraxia). I had no qualms about including all that in the book – it was, and is, an amazing sport/discipline, one that can be practised and enjoyed at any level.’
But that is not the end of the story. This debut novel is the first of ‘The Fraser Chronicles.’ The second book,’ Fight and Flight’ will hopefully be out later this year. The author Linda says that many of the same characters are in there but with a couple more to’ stir things up’. As she puts it, ‘needless to say, things don’t go smoothly and there are definitely a lot of close calls, and some funny moments!’
I asked Linda what inspired her to write this story. She replied:
‘Why did I write A Fistful of Feathers…? The story had been in my head for ages. Do you remember some years ago, those photographs of a mouse with an ear growing out of its back? Well, I think that’s when the original idea flickered into life! I also happen to love Science Fiction – I spent my twenties reading Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. Add to that a fascination with fantasy, Tolkien especially, and I think you can see where the inspiration comes from. ‘
Linda also loves writing poetry. She likes to perform ‘story poems’ in front of schools and youth groups. Two of her favourite story poems that she has composed recently are ‘The cupboard under the stairs’, and ‘The day the sun exploded’.
‘A Fistful of Feathers’ is published by The Writing Hall and is available from Amazon priced at £7.99