This is a CBC Book of the Year for Older Readers and winner of the Australian National Book Award.
In the weird rural Australia of Crew's fiction (Strange Objects; No Such Country) it's not surprising to encounter characters out of The Road Warrior: feral children, a brutish prospector scratching around in the bush. Such types people the author's suspenseful new yarn. Kim, a boy in sixth grade, relates how gold hunter Paddy Flannagan is found murdered, prompting an all-out search for his two wild children, teenage Leena and eight-year-old Micky. Leena is captured and put into the care of Kim's father and mother, the town's only doctor and nurse. Under the assumption that Paddy's killer is still at large, Leena's whereabouts are kept secret‘until Kimmy, as usual, spills the beans. Then he and his older sister's boyfriend find seemingly autistic Micky, who is likewise hidden. But as someone named ``Mister'' stalks the two Flannagan children, it falls to Kim to protect them. The mounting tension will keep readers glued to their seats. Teens used to the horrifying climaxes of adult suspense films or fiction may feel let down by the relatively innocuous resolution, but younger readers will probably be relieved. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
Gr 6-9‘An exciting, well-crafted mystery intertwined with an intriguing view of family relationships. Kim Marriott, 11, narrates the tale that fascinates his small Australia town: the murder of an impoverished gold digger and the disappearance of his son and daughter. Rumored sightings of these ``wild children'' quickly follow. When first Leena, then Micky is captured and temporarily housed with Kim's family, he befriends them and‘in a hair-raising scene‘protects them from the dreaded ``Mister'' who attacked their father. Smoothly woven into the suspense is a thought-provoking look at family loyalties and interactions. Leena and Micky both parallel and contrast with Kim and his vibrant, rebellious older sister Julia; the neglect experienced by the ``wild children'' is in sharp opposition to the Marriotts' strict, overprotective upbringing. Angel's Gate is a rich novel that will appeal to a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. Characterization, setting, and plot development are outstanding. This is by far Crew's best book to date, and is a superb representation of contemporary Australian writing.‘Ann W. Moore, Guilderland Public Library, NY