It creates suspense from the start, as wintry weather during a walk on the Yorkshire Moors endangers the brothers and their dog. It is funny, scatological, terrifying, heartwarming and heartbreaking, and is written in everyday prose through teenage Nicky’s convincing voice. The boys, whose family life has been rocky, but whose bond with each other is powerful, are touching and brave and also ordinary. McGowan creates characters whose background (working-class northern) is too little represented in fiction for young people, and he makes us know them and live their experience as if we were there.
...McGowan’s avoidance of melodrama makes things seem all the more dangerous... As with the earlier books, along with the excitement of the adventure, our interest lies in the relationship between the brothers and the emotional frontiers they cross, together and separately. McGowan makes such complexity available to his teenage readers in a social context where day-to-day life can be abrasive and emotion is implicit rather than expressed. Chapters are short, adjectives and adverbs are used sparingly.
This novella brings the boys’ story to an end, and it does so in a way that may well surprise and move readers.