When two teenage boys, Tom Lewis and Jack Barton, climb the gigantic oak at the bottom of Tom’s garden they embark on a journey that takes them toward adulthood, a change embracing both enlightenment and loss. Finding themselves in a dangerous, alien realm, where dreams and reality seem to interweave and deception is at the heart of everything, they come under the malevolent influence of a creature known as the White Wolf. What had began as a childish adventure is in fact something far darker and deeper, for the Wolf is playing a momentous game, an arcane puzzle that must be resolved. The boys walk a dark road of treachery and pain, love and lust, sacrifice and redemption. Friendship and loyalty are put to the test and corruption comes in many guises. Finally, truth can only be revealed through pain and forfeit. It is a journey into the heart of darkness where nothing and no-one are what they seem and the rules are the logic of a dream.
What a magnificent read this was. I was drawn into the story with the opening pages. Don’t be lulled into thinking that this is a YA book though as there are some very graphic scenes that verge on horror writing. To me it seemed like Hockley has written a modern version of Narnia, but one that is far darker, full of fantastic twists and completely his own. I had to read some of the last quarter of the book over again as I couldn’t believe what had just happened, that’s how unexpected the turns of events are. Hockley’s writing style is captivating and he manages to make dreams, illusions and reality all blur seamlessly together. The overlying message in this tale is of good over evil, that nothing in life comes without a price but hope is always with us. It’s difficult to categorize this novel but if I had to I would class it as fantasy/horror. I loved the mystical and pagan elements too.