A Gem to Draw Strength From – ‘The Amber Amulet’ by Craig Silvey

amberThe Amber Amulet is a slim but potent read. It’s a pleasing of blend of Graham Rawle and Michael Frayn. I could easily believe that it was by Rawle, such are the similarities in both prose and appearance. The narrator, a child, dwells in that space that Rawle chronicles so well, of not quite normal, but not outright weird. Then there is the artwork.  A collage of cuttings and photos that tell the story beyond the words. Again, the book lives in the spaces in-between; this time betwixt prose and graphic novel.

Liam McKenzie is the Masked Avenger, caped protector of Franklin Street.  The Masked Avenger draws his powers from hidden energy (potential energy) in precious rocks. He creeps about at night, looking to safeguard his neighbourhood. When the boy genius discovers that his neighbour is unhappy, his researches tell him that amber is the answer.  So after procuring the Amber Amulet, the Masked Avenger sets out to bring light to the wronged.

What follows is a heart-breaking tale of misapprehension and naivety that could only be produced by a child narrator. In this aspect that the novel resembles Michael Frayn’s prizewinning novel ‘Spies’.  Adult readers can spot what is happening, and Liam’s blissful innocence makes it all the more poignant.  ‘The Amber Amulet’ is quick read that takes considerably less than an hour to finish. It packs a powerful punch, and only the hardest of hearts will not be moved by Liam’s journey towards adulthood.  It’s a novel tinged with regret but filled with hope. It really is quite lovely; a gem to draw strength from.


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