‘Tell the story to its end,’ says Eren with a grin. His yellow eyes are glowing like embers in the night.
‘When I reach the end,’ I say, ‘what happens: You’ll have the whole story.’
‘Pff!’ he laughs. ‘Have it? Have it and own it?’ Boy,’ he says, ‘I am the whole story.’
‘Then what happens if I tell you the last bit?’
‘When you tell me, you mean. What happens then?’
I nod. He’s huge. There’s no attic now, no window, no lights. Just Eren. Eren, and nothing after that.
He’s thinking about something and he smiles. ‘Hmm,’ he says, looking at me and licking his lip with a dry, grey tongue. ‘What happens then: Why don’t we find out?’
Oli has come to live in the country, with his mother. They are staying with Oli’s uncle and aunt’s house, which was once his mother’s childhood home. Oli’s world has been ripped away from him and no one’s telling why, or when Dad will be coming. In this house in this village, Oli has a secret of his own. Eren. Eren lives in the attic and is hungry, insatiable for stories. Even as Oli makes new friends in the village, he is most drawn to the attic, to the enigmatic and other-worldly Eren and to stories.
Eren is a beautiful book, a small jacketed hardback with hints of the darkness within. It is a story of loss and learning, of childhood passing and the cost of secrets. Oli appears to have had a charmed childhood in London and he has a great deal of adjustment to make in this new life, even if it is only a temporary one. He has a combination of naiveté and world-weariness that sees him stumble through his new-old world. Eren, in the attic, draws him in, exploits his curiosity, gathers his stories. An elegant allegory. Eren is immediately engaging, a novel for a sophisticated reader happy to give a story time to infuse.
Eren, Simon P. Clark Murdoch Books 2014 ISBN: 9781472110978
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller