Cover image for The starlight claim
Title:
The starlight claim
ISBN:
9781536202649
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
226 pages ; 24 cm.
Summary:
Four months after his best friend, Dodge, disappeared near their families' camp in a boat accident, Nate is still haunted by nightmares. He'd been planning to make the treacherous trek to the remote campsite with a friend -- his first time in winter without his survival-savvy father. But when his friend gets grounded, Nate secretly decides to brave the trip solo in a journey that's half pilgrimage, half desperate hope he will find his missing friend when no one else could. What he doesn't expect to find is the door to the cabin flung open and the camp occupied by strangers: three men he's horrified to realize have escaped from a maximum-security prison. Snowed in by a blizzard and with no cell signal, Nate is confronted with troubling memories of Dodge and a stunning family secret, and realizes that his survival now depends on his wits as much as his wilderness skills. As things spiral out of control, Nate finds himself dealing with questions even bigger than who gets to leave the camp alive.
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Summary

Summary

Fast-paced, evocative, and intensely suspenseful, Tim Wynne-Jones's latest psychological thriller finds a teenager setting his wits against the frigid wilderness and a menacing crew of escapees.

Four months after his best friend, Dodge, disappeared near their families' camp in a boat accident, Nate is still haunted by nightmares. He'd been planning to make the treacherous trek to the remote campsite with a friend -- his first time in winter without his survival-savvy father. But when his friend gets grounded, Nate secretly decides to brave the trip solo in a journey that's half pilgrimage, half desperate hope he will find his missing friend when no one else could. What he doesn't expect to find is the door to the cabin flung open and the camp occupied by strangers: three men he's horrified to realize have escaped from a maximum-security prison. Snowed in by a blizzard and with no cell signal, Nate is confronted with troubling memories of Dodge and a stunning family secret, and realizes that his survival now depends on his wits as much as his wilderness skills. As things spiral out of control, Nate finds himself dealing with questions even bigger than who gets to leave the camp alive.


Author Notes

Tim Wynne-Jones is the accomplished author of numerous young adult novels, including The Emperor of Any Place, Blink & Caution, The Uninvited, and The Ruinous Sweep. The Starlight Claim revisits the site of (and some characters from) his acclaimed novel The Maestro a generation later. In 2012 Tim Wynne-Jones was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for his services to literature. He lives in Ontario, Canada.


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--This taut and twisty thriller follows teen protagonist Nate as he navigates difficult physical and psychological landscapes. Physically, Nate decides to take his first solo trip to Ghost Lake, battling a blizzard and the bitter cold alone, unbeknownst to his parents. When he arrives at his family's camp, he finds a group of strange men, who turn out the be escaped prisoners from a nearby maximum-security facility. Nate is forced to leave his supplies and hide out in his friends' deserted camp to keep safe. Luckily, Nate is no stranger to the wilderness, and this obstacle gives him an opportunity to prove himself against the elements. Nate also journeys through the psychological landscape of his grief at the passing of his best friend--the true reason for his solo journey--the threat of violence from the prisoners, and the uncovering of some incredible family secrets. Nate is able to put the painful memories of his best friend to rest while also coming to understand the long-standing feud between his father and grandfather. The conclusion of the novel includes intense moments of suspense and violence, and Nate must decide if he's the type of man to fend for himself or protect others, no matter the cost. Although this book was written as a companion to a much earlier Wynne-Jones novel, giving it a lackluster title that is never explained in the text, it can stand alone. The novel is a modern-day Hatchet with plenty of thrills for teen readers. VERDICT A suspenseful thriller about survival against the elements--both physical and mental.--Shannon O'Connor, Unami Middle School, Chalfont, PA


Publisher's Weekly Review

Twenty-four years after the publication of Wynne-Jones's The Maestro, which traces 14-year-old Burl's flight from his abusive father, comes this "intergenerational sequel," an equally riveting survival tale featuring Burl's teenage son, Nate. Nearly four months have passed since Nate's friend Dodge disappeared from their families' campsite in the Canadian wilderness. He is presumed dead, but his body hasn't been found, and Nate is determined to search the site himself. His solo trek to Ghost Lake (Nate's parents mistakenly think he'll be accompanied by a friend) is hazardous enough in the winter, but the dangers increase when Nate finds that his family's cabin is occupied by escaped convicts. With no cellphone service and a blizzard on its way, Nate holes up in a neighboring cabin and must rely on his knowledge, wits, and instincts to survive his ordeal. An action-packed adventure featuring snowmobile chases, violent encounters, and Nate's courageous attempt to provide aid, the book is also a poignant coming-of-age story with Nate, haunted by memories of Dodge, gaining new insight into his friend and discovering new facets of his heritage. Heavy foreshadowing makes some of the plot predictable, but the book's fast pace and frequent dramatic moments will hold the attention of even reluctant readers. Ages 14--up. (Sept.)


Kirkus Review

A teen journeys into the wilderness searching for a lost friend.It's been four months since Nate's pal Dodge disappeared in a terrible boating accident. Nate's been haunted by nightmares ever since, desperate for closure over his friend's demise. Armed with survivalist skills his father, Burl (the main character of the author's 1995 book, The Maestro), taught him from a young age, Nate travels to his family's secluded camp only to find it already occupied by some nefarious characters: a trio of felons who've escaped from a nearby prison. Trapped by a winter storm and joined by a mysterious ally, Nate is forced to use his smarts and unique skills to make it out alive. There's a lot going on here, and the disparate elements never effectively congeal. The beginning of the tale reads more like an equipment checklist and some smart survival tips strung along a simple adventure narrative, but when the story pivots toward an emotional, introspective tone, there's no foundation beneath it. Readers itching for an adventure story will be bored by the ponderous passages, and those uninterested in outdoorsy pursuits won't make it past the field-guide nature of the first 50 or so pages. The book assumes a white default.A misfire. (Survival fiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

When 16-year-old Nate's best friend Dodge dies in a boating accident on a remote lake in Northern Ontario, the boy's body isn't found. Four months pass and Nate determines to find his friend's body himself. And so, alone, he heads to the lake and the camps that both his and Dodge's families own on its shore. Intending to make his own camp his base, he is startled to discover that two men have occupied it. When he realizes that the men are escaped convicts, he hides at Dodge's camp but is discovered and threatened with death by one of the convicts. Things become even more complicated when a mysterious third man shows up, his identity hidden by the ski mask he wears. Who is he? Will Nate manage to escape his captors? Will any of them survive the blizzard that roars into the area? Wynne-Jones has done a superb job of verisimilitude and ratcheting up suspense in this page-turning mash-up of mystery and survival story. Rich in plot, the story is also notable for its complex, multidimensional characters, even that of Dodge, whom readers meet in flashbacks. Wynne-Jones doesn't strike a single false note in this beautifully written, compulsively readable adventure.--Michael Cart Copyright 2019 Booklist


Excerpts

Excerpts

1. The Dream   The dream was waiting for him. Dodge Hoebeek under a thick sheet of crystal-​clear ice, his eyes wide open, his fingers scraping at the glassy ceiling above him, his mouth screaming, bubbles pouring out, and his long blond hair trailing behind him in the black water. Then somehow the streaming bubbles formed themselves into words. "You gotta come, man! You owe me!" And Nate, kneeling on the ice above his friend, his bare hands flat on the surface --​frozen to the surface --​ ​tried to speak but couldn't, as though he were the one who was drowning. "You owe me, Nate! It's your fault!" "I'm sorry!" Nate shouted. "I'm so sorry!" It was like he was looking into a warped carnival mirror, unable to say anything, unable to do anything except throw his head back and howl. He woke up, his heart beating like a two-​stroke engine. Had he really howled? He listened to the ticking stillness. No one was coming, so maybe not. Last fall he'd howled, good and loud. He'd woken, time and time again, with his head pressed to his mother's chest, her arms around him, his father standing just behind her, his hand on her shoulder, strong and calm. "I've got to find him," Nate would say. And his mother would shush him. And he'd yell at her. "No! You don't understand. He needs me. He's waiting for me up there!" Eventually he would wear himself out. "It's all my fault," he'd say. "It's all my fault." His voice would grow hoarse and the tears would come and finally he'd lay his head back down on his pillow. His mother would fuss with the covers as if he were a five­year​­old, touch her fingers to her lips and place them on his forehead, a benediction. Then she'd leave the room. But his father would stand there in the dark. Stand guard until he fell asleep. Stand there as long as it took.       2. Escape   It was a daring escape. "Brazen escape," the TV anchorman called it. Nate watched as two jailbirds attempted to climb a knotted rope hanging from a helicopter. "Is this for real?" said Nate. His father nodded, his eyes glued to the television. "So how come if they're filming it, nobody's trying to stop them?" "CCTV," said his father. Nate leaned against the doorjamb at the entrance to the den. It was late. He was in his pajama bottoms and a ratty Lockerby Vikings T-​shirt. The men weren't getting very far on their climb toward the chopper. They were about as athletic as a ­couple of filing cabinets. "Not exactly James Bond," said Nate. His father chuckled. The helicopter began to rise with the two guys hanging on for dear life. Up, up they rose toward the roofline of the jail that surrounded the yard on all four sides. The closed-​circuit camera was in a fixed position, and soon enough the dangling criminals were whisked out of view. And then there was a new camera in play, the TV station camera, presumably, outside the jail. But there were no criminals or helicopter in sight, obviously. This was later. The camera was following the path the helicopter might have taken across a city covered in snow. "Whoa!" said Nate as the scenery beyond the enclosed compound came into view. "Is that here?" His father nodded. "The Sudbury Jail." There were other shots of police roadblocks on various highways out of town, and then the news returned to the talking head with the frozen image of the escape on a screen behind him. Nate's dad pushed the mute button. "I don't blame them one bit," he said. "The convicts?" "Uh­huh. That place is disgusting. Overcrowded, understaffed. And the mice? The place is completely infested." Nate stared at his father. "Dad, is there something you want to tell me?" His father held up his hands. "Busted," he said. "Yeah, I spent some time in the stony lonesome." "Really?" The grin gave him away. "Only as a visitor." "Oh," said Nate, relieved but sort of disappointed. Burl Crow was the most decent, upstanding guy imaginable. It would be kind of cool if he had a shady past. Then again, maybe he did. "Visiting who?" His father shook his head slowly, back and forth. He was looking toward the television but he had one of those thousand-​yard stares on his face, the kind of blank, unfocused gaze of someone looking into the past. Then he snapped out of it. "What are you doing up?" he said. "Uh​­uh," said Nate. "You're not getting off the hook that easy." His father raised his eyebrows, trying to look parentally threatening but missing by a mile. Then he patted the couch next to him. Nate slouched into the room and sat down. "My dad," said Burl. "Your grandfather." "Oh, right." Nate had never met his grandfather, but he knew a bit about him. The burn on his father's right arm: that was thanks to Calvin Crow. "What was he in for?" His father laughed. "You name it. Arson for one thing, drunk and disorderly, aggravated assault, petty larceny --not​­so-​petty larceny." "What's larceny?" "Taking what isn't yours. That's my old man to a T." He put his hands together thoughtfully. "He was a thug, ­Nathaniel. Bad news." "Did he die?" "Haven't heard." Nate frowned. "When was the last time you saw him?" His father shrugged. "Five or six years ago, I guess. He was in for carjacking that time. He wanted me to bail him out and I had to draw the line. Not anymore. We're done." He turned to Nate and tapped him on the knee. "What's up, son? I thought you went to bed an hour ago." Nate let his head flop back onto the top of the couch. Closed his eyes. Excerpted from The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.