By Julie Hearn
Published by Oxford
ISBN 978 0 19 272929 3
If there was an old wooden box in front of you and someone told you not to open it, what would you want to do? You would want to open it, of course. But one box that should definitely never have been opened was Pandora's box. In Roman mythology, this box held all possible evils. Against instructions, a girl named Pandora opened it and hideous things such as hatred, murder and greed flew out into human life. Mankind was innocent until Pandora opened the box and released all evil into the world.
But did every evil fly out when Pandora opened the box? What if one force of evil, an unknown sin that has not yet blighted man, had remained trapped in the box when the lid was snapped shut again? Will someone open the box again and release this last destructive monstrous force into the world?
Julie Hearn's terrific new novel Wreckers is an edge-of-the-seat read based on a frightening and intriguing idea. Opening with a prologue set on the coast of England in 1732, Hearn grips the reader from the word go. A ship is wrecked in a storm; a mysterious box is salvaged from the wreckage and taken to the local manor house. The box is opened by the young lady of the manor, who is terrified by what she momentarily sees inside.
Orders are given to destroy the box, but a vengeful servant hides it in a cubbyhole instead of throwing it back into the sea. Whatever is in the box has waited centuries to be released. It can wait centuries more until someone opens the box again and it can get out forever.
The today of Wreckers is the not-too-distant future after London is destroyed in a catastrophic attack. England is closed. Five teenagers who have known one another since childhood live in a coastal village dominated by an abandoned manor house. The friends are looking for adventure, and one day they decide to explore the dark house. What they find changes their lives forever.
Wreckers is set in a difficult future, but this is just background to Hearn's great story. The action is told in alternate chapters by the five teens, and this device lets us get to know them as they face and deal with the evil force. Hearn is at her best creating five distinctive voices to move the story forward. All the teens are faced with the same evil, but they see it in different ways and this adds extra impetus and interest to an already exciting story.
Hearn is a classy writer, and her latest novel is a thrilling and dangerous book. She creates a completely terrifying atmosphere as she mixes an ancient myth with a tale of today and tomorrow. This is a novel that is going to gather much praise as readers discover and talk about it. And remember it can be dangerous to open boxes if you are told not to.