Billy Dean is a boy, locked in a room for the first thirteen years of his life. He emerges into a broken and beautiful world. The butcher, Mr McCaufrey, shows him how to use a knife. Mrs Malone encourages him to speak to ghosts. He hunts for miracles in the rubble. He stares into the darkness of his own soul.
Billy can’t read or write, but he’s driven to make marks on the page with whatever comes to hand: the skin of a mouse, a feather from a dead sparrow, his own blood. Eventually he learns to tell his story in his own phonetic language:
“The Aynjel Childe has dun the deed of monsters.
Wether you no him or not he has been here always.
He cud just be a thing of dreem & nitemare a thing that prowls within you at the ded of nite & glares into yor hart & prowls inside yor deepest dreems
Whatever he is it is tym to tell the tail.”
Billy Dean embodies the heights and depths of human experience. Horror is matched by wonder, darkness by light. His story takes possession of you. This is David Almond’s first novel for adults and probably his best book yet: terrifying, exhilarating and poetic.