Author: Jenny Valentine
Release date: 5th August 2010
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Realism, Contemporary YA Fiction
Target audience: 11+
UK Publisher: Harper Collins
Summary from Amazon:
Two boys. One identity. He can change his life if he says yes…
An explosive new mystery from the award-winning author Jenny Valentine, The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight is the story of a boy who assumes the identity of a missing teenager and in-so-doing unearths a series of shattering family secrets – and the truth about who he really is.
The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight is a mystery, a thriller and a story of stolen childhood. In the beginning there is a boy who has been living on the streets and hiding from something. For two years, since he was 14, he has been lost and suddenly when he arrives at a hostel he sees an opportunity to assume another missing boy’s life. That boy is Cassiel Roadnight. And so, the narrator of our story lets himself imagine that being Cassiel will be his dream come true. He will have a family who love him, a home and a name to call his own.
The boy has a painful story to tell. From the age of ten up until he was fourteen, he was trying to escape the foster and residential care system. Everything he has believed about his life is ripped away from him and he spends those years not understanding why. Finally there comes a time when he realises that he has no name. He is nothing and no one. It is a really sad tale of disrupted childhood that will tug at your heartstrings.
But the story is about the double life of Cassiel Roadnight and how our lost boy takes that life and imitates Cassiel. I should say that the boy and Cassiel look very similar. The novel plays with themes of doubles and disguises, appearances and deception and identity and faces. It also poses question about family—what it is and what it means. It asks how do we become who we are.
At the very heart of the story are two mysteries. Firstly of the boy who tells the story: how did he get so lost? Secondly, of Cassiel: just why did he disappear that November night? The plot is intertwined around the two mysteries and the hidden past of the two boys. As the reader, you guess and double guess the truth behind the lies and the fear that is palpable in the narrative.
It is a touching and saddening journey that you take with the lost boy. It is also tense and chilling as the actions unfolds into a thriller. The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight will tangle you up in its web of lies and deceit and keep you on your toes until the very end. Riveting!
Thanks to Harper Collins Children's Books for sending me the book to review.