A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although light on action, this story showcases the author's vivid and bizarre imagination.
What's the story?
Six children are drawn by forces they don't understand to Coldharbour, a miles-long stretch of garbage dumps and landfill inhabited only by roving gangs of children. Each of the six is changing, some more horrifically than others, and they are drawn together, as each feels the presence of the others and hears a roar and a wingbeat that can't be heard by others.
Milo is changing the most, as his body begins shedding hair and skin, turning gold and then silver. Thomas has a power to strengthen, heal, and calm others. Twins Emily and Freda scuttle on all fours like insects. Walter has become twelve feet tall, with weight and strength to match. And Helen is able to hear the thoughts of others. Together they try to support each other through their changing, and prepare for what comes next.
Is it any good?
This first book in a planned series, The Silver Sequence, spends most of its time setting up the characters and situation. That's not to say that the characters have much depth, but just that the changes they're going through are described at some length. The setting, in the dumps of Coldharbour, is fairly vivid, but there's not much action -- this first volume is pretty much all setup. Perhaps it will pick up in future volumes.
Meanwhile, the author is exercising his bizarre imagination in interesting and unusual directions, and kids who like that sort of thing may be intrigued. Very little here is ordinary or predictable -- even the nature of the approaching evil, hardly more than hinted at in this first book, seems unlike typical fantasy fiction. McNish has made a start that promises more than it delivers so far. If he can pick up the pace and get the action rolling in the next book, though, this series could become very interesting indeed.