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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Review: The Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan

A Thriller for Thursday - and a fab read.

Title: The Long Weekend
Author: Savita Kalhan
Publisher: Andersen
Published: 2008
Genre: YA thriller

Find it at Amazon UK

The blurb says...
Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with a man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out.

They were trapped, then separated.
Now they are alone.
Will either of them get out alive?
This gripping and hypnotic thriller will have you reading late into the night...

My verdict: Tense and engaging. A great example of thriller writing for a teen audience. Highly recommended.
This book gets going quickly. The relationship between Sam and Lloyd is established and they are rapidly put into a dangerous situation, although it isn't clear immediately in the text that they are in danger. Kalhan is skilled at creating tension - we know from the blurb what is happening, and are willing the boys to realise that all is not well and that they should try to escape. The situation is entirely believable in terms of how contemporary clued-up kids could find themselves in this scenario.

The story is told from Sam's perspective, using third-person close narration. We have access to Sam's thoughts and feelings and are not able to 'see' what is happening beyond his perspective. This is also highly effective and contributes to the tension, particularly early on when we know they have been taken but Sam and Lloyd have not yet realised anything is wrong, and we do not yet know precisely what their captor intends. The voice is convincing for a kid of Sam's age and his thought processes and interactions with Lloyd (and their captor) ring true.

The main characters are only eleven and Kalhan manages to express the threat and what is happening to the boys in terms which are appropriate to this age group. Nothing is made explicit in the book - which, of course, further adds to the tension and the overall 'creep factor'.

This is likely to be an effective cautionary tale, although saying so seems to reduce the book to merely a teaching aid, which does it a great disservice. This is a brilliant read and teens will enjoy it for its tension and excitement, which is exactly how it should be.

I just read this book on my Kindle last week and what should happen but this week, Kalhan posts a book trailer on the Awfully Big Blog Adventure. So take a look!

This is my twentieth review for the Bookette's British Books Challenge (confession: I've made that claim once before, but somehow I'd managed never to do an 'eighteenth' review. I don't have a pathological fear of eighteen or anything, promise. And please, no jokes about English teachers not being able to do Maths :) This time it really IS twenty) 


  1. This book really upset me. I struggled to keep the tears back in parts. It is well written but breaks your heart.

  2. I prefer my own reads to be a little gentler (I'm a bit of a wuss!) but I can see that it might appeal to teenagers.

  3. I heard about this a whiel back and even meant to pick it up (but somehow forgot). I really should get a copy (maybe on my Kindle).


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