Some time ago I contacted Marcus Sedgwick out of the blue, as I sometimes do, and asked him why he is learning Swedish. I felt I had the right to know, having been tipped off as to his educational interests. Marcus very kindly told me about his studying; most likely feeling it was safer to be polite to strange, mad witches, than not.
His new book Revolver has a strong Swedish flavour to it. The main character Sig Anderson is clearly Swedish, as is his immediate family. The 15-year-old sits with his father’s frozen corpse in a very cold cabin, somewhere that may or may not be Sweden, north of the Arctic Circle. It’s 1910, and most of the story is set at this time, with some flashbacks to 1899.
The revolver is a Colt, but I couldn’t help thinking of the film Winchester ’73, as so much seemed to have to do with Sig’s father’s weapon. To remain in the film world, the story also reminded me of High Noon. Probably because it happens over a brief period of just over a day.
It’s very, very tense. You have the shock of sudden death and harsh surroundings and poverty, and then you add the frightening looking stranger who knocks on the door. Sig has to grow up overnight, and he has to think about what his father, and his dead mother, would want him to do.
This book provides both excitement and a brief introduction to the gold rush a century ago, and reminds the reader what desperate people will do.
And it takes a ‘foreigner’ like Marcus to make me think of the food called ‘palt’ as some kind of meatballs. I suppose it might well be.