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School: The Seventh Silence

School: The Seventh Silence

By Craig Herbertson

Second edition, 2017. Illustrations by Mathew Staunton and Aoife Staunton. Portlaoise: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-78201-200-9 (paperback), price: €12.95, £10.95, $15.95.

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Also available School: The Sixth Silence.

Jean jumped upwards, two steps at a time. When he reached the first landing, he turned and saw that the mists and the voices had also risen. They followed him slowly; anonymous, bilious and sickening. Jean stared wildly around himself. The landing was hemmed in by a single Cornell drawer, dead butterflies pinned to its spreading boards faded in the light of a long church-like window. Jean paused, fought for breath. He felt an instinctive dread of the contents of the Cornell drawers, a dread that nearly outweighed his fear of the approaching mist.    
Jean Deforte has found a caterpillar but lost his little sister. It’s a difficult year; Father is dying and Mother has sent him to an English school. Nobody likes Jean because he is half French. The girls are laughing. The teachers are on his back. The bullies are waiting in the hallways. Unluckily for Jean, there are worse things than bullies… There are vacant black holes in the corners of his mind. There are darker things that would gladly fill them. Jean is about to discover that his school is more foreign than he could possibly imagine.

Behind the stockroom door there are other classrooms. Classrooms where paper planes carry passengers, statues cry, and board games cost your life. There are endless dusty corridors, back ways, cellars, chimney flues, hidden rooms, and garrets, and just occasionally you might find a pupil, running. Better join him. Jean knows his little sister is here. But is she hiding or helping? Is she alive or dead? In point of fact is Jean alive or dead? It’s a question that his com­pan­ion, the enigmatic Moonster, might answer. But Moonster is trying to get out, not in.

Jean’s quest to find her becomes a personal journey. A journey to the door of the Seventh Silence. A rite of passage, a symbolic expedition through Hades, the struggle between good and evil, the collision of appearance and reality. There is something here of Dante Alighieri, Mervyn Peake, Lewis Carroll. Add a little Franz Kafka and Philip K. Dick, and you will have guessed that this is not a book for children—unless, like Jean, they are very brave.


Craig Herbertson was born in Edinburgh in 1959. At various times, he has been a labourer, clerk, gardener, salesman, barman, doorman, grape-picker, musician, teacher, mime and professional singer, arranger, songwriter and musical director. He is the author of The Death Tableau and a short horror collection The Heaven Maker and other Gruesome Tales. He lives in Edinburgh with Silke and two of his four children.

HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2017-10-31

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