I'm probably the world's biggest fan of Alan's last book - Callum and the Mountain (seriously if you've not already read it rush out and buy it now!). So I was thrilled to be invited to be a part of the blog tour for his new YA masterpiece Jack's Well.
Grabbing you right from the start the story begins with Jack age 14, in an institution, struggling with mental health issues. We swing between his present situation, as he processes his memories to try and make sense of things, and the fantasy world created by his Father - with Jack as the hero, which has made both Jack and his Father famous and set up expectations that Jack feels he can never live up to, and an absentee Father so entrenched in his writing and book tours that he has no time to be there for his (metaphorically) drowning son, struggling with grief after losing his mum, and bullying from jealous school mates.
Now I must confess - I'm not generally a fan of books that have multiple storylines. My brain prefers a single thread story that i can immerse in. But - I didn't struggle with the dual storylines in Jack's Well at all.
The interwoven storylines are so integral to each other, and so well written - that they merge beautifully to create a single storyline. And somehow the back and forth nature of the two tales perfectly illustrates the mental struggle that Jack is undergoing. Through the threads of reality and fantasy we feel we are on the journey WITH Jack, processing the past through the stories his father created for him.
In the stories he's strong, confident, knowing what needs to be done, and rushing into the fray to get it done. In real life things don't seem so clear, and the unwanted fame and expectations thrust upon him by his alter-ego make him want only to retreat from the world.
Once again Alan has managed to create a character that we can deeply connect with, and a world so well described that you can picture yourself so clearly within it, battling at Jack and Ulrik's side to free the Kingdom from the dark forces which enslave it.
Readers 12+ will appreciate the depth and maturity of the story - modern issues with a well-written fantasy element will keep them enthralled to the very last page!
Jack's Well by Alan McClure
Published by Beaten Track Publishing
Out October 15th 2020!