As part of my YA double bill today I am joining the blog tour for the YA mystery, Monkey Arkwright, by Rob Campbell. Many thanks to Rob, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.
Budding writer Lorna Bryson is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her father when she meets Monkey Arkwright, the boy who loves to climb. The two strike up an immediate rapport, and Monkey challenges her to write about him, claiming that he can show her things that are worth writing about.
True to his word, Lorna is catapulted into Monkey’s world of climbing and other adventures in the churches, woodlands and abandoned places in and around their home town of Culverton Beck.
When the two teenagers find an ancient coin in the woods, claims from potential owners soon flood in, including the mysterious Charles Gooch, who is adamant that the coin is his. But this is only the opening act in a much larger mystery that has its roots in some dark deeds that took place more than a century earlier.
Combining their talents, Lorna and Monkey set about fitting the pieces together in a tale of budding friendship, train-obsessed simpletons, the shadow of Napoleon and falling pianos.
After going through a spate of darker novels towards the end of 2019, Monkey Arkwright was just the book I needed to lighten the mood as I entered the new decade. For me, it was love at first sight with the eponymous hero of the book. Monkey is such a quirky little character with his love of climbing and apparent lust for life that it was impossible to resist his charms from the instant he appeared in the book. There is more to Monkey than meets the eye though and I thoroughly enjoyed watching his story unfold.
There was something about the writing style of this book, and the story itself, that put me in mind of the old black and white film noir genre. The mystery of the strange coin, and the even stranger people who tried to collect it, combined with decades old legends surrounding lucky artefacts, together with some of the language used both in the narrative, and by our heroine Lorna, made this almost feel like it was a book from another time. At the same time, it is also a charming coming of age tale as Lorna and Monkey learn more about each other and themselves, and what they are capable of.
Although the book does take a slightly darker turn from around the halfway point as Lorna and Monkey become more involved with the mysterious Lester Hawkstone, it somehow retains a feel of innocence and the old school adventure stories I grew up with. I think as the series progresses it has the potential to develop into something more sinister, but in a way I hope it doesn’t, as to me the innocence of the story reflects Monkey and his attitude to life. Either way, I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rob Campbell was born in the blue half of Manchester.
He studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Manchester Polytechnic, gaining an honours degree, but the fact that he got a U in his Chemistry O-Level helps to keep him grounded.
Having had a belly full of capacitors and banana plugs, on graduation he transferred his skills to software engineering. He still writes code by day, but now he writes novels by night. Listing his pastimes in no particular order, he loves music, reading and holidays, but he is partial to the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.
His favourite authors are David Morrell, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch & Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
He lives in Manchester with his wife and two daughters.
Make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in this tour.