Philip Womack

Worlds upon Worlds within Worlds

Mr Godley's Phantom: An Infection of Evil


David Fickling Books 230pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The Lost Witch


Andersen Press 336pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The Clockwork Crow


Firefly Press 224pp £6.99 order from our bookshop

The late Mal Peet was a writer of extraordinary gifts. His work was varied, intelligent and challenging, and he strained at convention while telling powerful and moving stories. His estate has been publishing the manuscripts he left behind; it is with sadness that I note that this is probably the final one. Few other authors who write ostensibly for children have matched his range: in many ways he resembles Robert Westall, whose output over forty or so novels was consistently excellent and who was unafraid to treat difficult themes.

Here, Peet returns to fatherhood, war and what it means to be good. Martin is a young man of the upper middle classes who has been left traumatised by the Second World War and by what he saw in Belsen. He drifts from seeing a psychiatrist to pub fights to dropping out of Cambridge. A random introduction from his platoon commander sends him to work as driver and odd job man at Burra Hall, where Mr Godley lives almost alone, brooding over his dead son (whose uniform graces a dummy in his house) and his beautiful Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Englishmen Abroad in the Reign of Henry VIII'. Free lecture by Dr Susan Brigden, Thurs 18 Oct, 6.30pm Europe Hou… ,
    • It 'contains twists and near misses and bit-part players, everything you might expect from a true-crime story'. Ian… ,
    • Oh normally a week or two before the ceremony itself - so mid-November. ,
    • Ian Sansom reviews The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by… ,
    • 'It is hard to think of an economist who could craft such an elegantly readable account of postwar failure as this.… ,
    • Frederick Forsyth reviews The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by ,
    • . reviews What We Have Lost: The Dismantling of Great Britain by James Hamilton-Paterson ,