© Sylvia Waugh, illustration © Martin Matje.
Sylvia Waugh has written three well-received books about The Mennyms, a family of life-size dolls that have come to life. I read two of them, and while I find the entire idea creepy, I came to admire her writing. This book is unrelated, but like her other books, it does focus on two outsider characters: young Thomas and his father Patrick. They seem to lead an ordinary life in small-town England, but in fact they are spies of a sort. Though they appear human, they’re actually aliens from a distant planet gathering information about humans. Their mission has a time limit, and it’s almost up, so the two begin to travel toward the place where their space ship is hidden, but on the way a terrible traffic accident occurs, and Patrick completely vanishes. Thomas is taken to a hospital, and kept there for observation, but he refuses to cooperate. Thomas is already conflicted about leaving the only life he knows (he was too young to remember their own planet), and yet if his father doesn’t come back to get him in time, the ship will leave without them. And of course Thomas is also very worried about his father and what might have happened to him.
It’s a charming story with great characters and a good deal of mystery and suspense, while at the same time being science fictional, quite an appealing combination for me. I recommend it highly.