One of my favourite parts of being in two separate book clubs is the great stories I get recommended to me by my friends that I may not have heard of otherwise.
So there we were, sitting at our local Denny’s, enjoying coffee and 2000 calorie lunches (I lie, mine was probably 2500 calories – and I had desert… and a milkshake!) when the topic came up of our earliest memories of horror stories. For me it was Roald Dahl’s The Witches, a story involving a young boy, his grandmother, and some of the most evil characters I’ve ever come across in fiction. For my friend Dr. Teeth, it was another short story of Dahl’s, The Swan, from his fiction collection The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More.
Having never even heard of the title, I requested it from my local library and finished the book yesterday. I am happy to add the hero of The Swan, Peter Watson to my genre characters of the week.
Seen through the eyes of the stories bullies/protagonists, Peter is described as:
“…the enemy. Ernie and Raymond detested him because he was nearly everything that they were not. He had a small, frail body. His face was freckled, and he wore spectacles with thick lenses. He was a brilliant pupil, already in the senior class at school although he was only thirteen. He loved music and played the piano well. He was no good at games. He was quiet and polite. His clothes, although patched and darned, were always clean. And his father did not drive a truck or work in a factory. He worked in the bank.”
The story follows these two sadistic bullies as they torment and nearly kill Peter. Peter himself comes across as both terrified and having one of those strong young minds I love coming across in YA fiction.
The story is great – chilling and terrifying and with well drawn characters – definitely worth checking out.