Review Blog

Nov 20 2009

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

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Orion, 2009. ISBN 9781842551868.
(Age 12+) Recommended. A chilling, historical thriller, Revolver gripped me from the first page where Sedgwick introduces 15 year old Sig Andersson, sitting alone in a cabin looking at his dead father who has frozen out on the lake. When a huge bear of a man comes knocking at the door asking for his father, I had to continue reading to the end. What did the man want? Was using the old Colt revolver that was hidden in the pantry Sig's only way to ensure his safety? Would help arrive in time?
Sedgwick has written a compulsive story. By writing interspersed chapters, set 11 years earlier than 1910 when the action occurs, he fills out the background to the arrival of Gunther Wolff demanding the gold that he says Sig's father, Einar, owes him. With sparse language he brings to life the dangers of the frozen lake, the lack of medical care and the desolate isolation of the gold mining town of Nome. I became involved in the icy setting of the Arctic and the trials of the Andersson family as they tried to make a living. Tension is built up when Gunther Wolff sits and watches Einar in his job in the assay office and then declares he knows that he is stealing gold and demands half of the proceeds. After the murder of his wife, Einar goes on the run.
Sig is terrified by the appearance of Gunther and has no idea where the gold might be hidden. Sedgwick intensifies the reader's apprehension about the outcome, by divulging the inner conflicts that Sig has about the use of violence. His mother has brought him up to believe in the bible while his father has emphasised the power of wielding a gun. How Sig resolves this dilemma is clever and satisfying.
Reluctant readers, or people who enjoyed Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, will latch onto this book. It is relatively short, with plenty of action, and Sig faces a truly terrifying situation. However it also one that will confront both adults and thoughtful readers with its underlying issues of pacifism and survival.
Pat Pledger

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