Author: Savita Kalhan
Release Date: 2nd October 2008
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Andersen Press
Summary from Amazon:
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 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...
The Long Weekend is an uncompromising thriller which will chill you to the bone and have you breathlessly turning page after page.
Sam has recently started at yet another new school. This time he is hoping to stay put and after a week he makes an exciting friend in Lloyd. They arrange to go to one of their houses after school on Friday. The only trouble is that they can’t remember which set of parents are meant to be collecting them. They wait in the rain outside school for ages until a luxury car pulls up. Lloyd gets in and Sam follows but neither of them think to check with the other that they know the driver. So the car drives off and they sit in the back being highly impressed with the gismos and gadgets of the Mercedes. But eventually the penny drops and Sam considers that the man in the front seat isn’t Lloyd’s dad after all.
What follows is a terrifying experience for both boys and the reader. The man takes them to a mansion house and there is no way out. Why they are there is a complete mystery to them and the novel continues along this very sinister path.
I was absolutely petrified reading this book. It is every child’s nightmare – the storyline that is not the book. The Long Weekend effortlessly pulls you into the story. The narrative is told simply but it is so effective. We see the story through Sam’s eyes yet it is told in the third person. It is as if the reader is there holding his hand the whole way through, crying when he cries, paralysed by fear when he is. I was desperate to read on but I was also afraid to. Kalhan’s debut novel seems to me to be incredibly brave because the story is unflinchingly dark and powerful for that reason.
Both Sam and Lloyd are likeable and distinctive characters. We are naturally sympathetic towards Sam as he is the voice we hear. We are perhaps slightly removed from Lloyd but this is important for the story. I say no more on that for fear of spoilers.
My recommendation: You absolutely should read this book. You will never get in a car without checking you know the driver again. But you should read it under these conditions: Safely tucked up at home, in broad daylight with someone to hold your hand when you want to scream. A real frightener so if sinister thrillers are your thing, The Long Weekend is undoubtedly for you.
Thank you to Savita Kalhan for inviting me to review her book.