Book review: Buried Thunder by Tim Bowler

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Maya Munro is just an ordinary sort of girl, so why is she living a nightmare that only happens to people in horror movies?

Drawn into a forest by the glinting yellow eyes of a fox, the teenager has stumbled across two dead bodies, but what is waiting for her at home even more terrifying to contemplate.

And it’s just the start of a sequence of spine-chilling events that will threaten the lives of Maya and her family.

It’s easy to see why Tim Bowler is regarded as one of the most compelling and original writers for teenagers. With 20 books to his name and the prestigious Carnegie Medal under his belt, he simply can’t put a foot wrong.

Buried Thunder is a tour de force; a compelling and clever thriller that reels in its readers from the first intriguing sentence and holds them in a vice-like grip to the heart-stopping denouement.

Atmospheric, tense and bristling with menace, the brilliant plotting leaves little room for guessing and there’s no chance of solving this mystery until the last page has turned.

Moving out of London and buying a hotel in the countryside was supposed to open up a new life for the teenager, her parents and older brother Tom.

The 14th century Rowan Tree Hotel might sound like a romantic country idyll but Maya senses an evil presence there, particularly in her bedroom where she is haunted by an unnatural silence and the uneasy feeling that she is not alone.

It’s as though all her familiar possessions have changed their character and belong to someone else - but who? And why is she compelled to follow the fox and keep wandering into the darkness and shadows of the village forest?

Meanwhile, the behaviour of local ‘bad boy’ Zep is becoming increasingly wild and bizarre and his warnings of ‘bad magic’ seem to be coming true.

As Maya’s fears grow over strange footsteps in the night, inexplicable creaks under her bed and the constant scratch, scratch, scratch at her bedroom door, she knows for sure that someone is going to die.

The brilliance of Bowler’s book lies in his ability to bamboozle the Maya’s nightmare a wild fantasy, are her experiences paranormal, can there be a rational explanation for what is happening to her and is there no escape?

Teen fiction at its very best.

(Oxford University Press, hardback, £12.99)