A uniquely dark and elegant tale that illuminates the loneliness of childhood, the pain of loss and the power of imagination. It will charm and haunt its readers in equal measure.
Eleven-year-old Mark is bored. He spends his days on the Brighton sea-front, practicing on his skate-board. His mother is too ill to leave the house, and his stepfather is determined that Mark shouldn’t disturb her. So when the old lady who lives in the flat downstairs introduces him to rock cakes and offers to show him a secret, he’s happy to indulge her.
The old lady takes a large, old-fashioned key and leads Mark down a dusty corridor to a heavy door. Beyond the door is a world completely alien to Mark’s understanding. For behind the old lady’s tiny apartment, the house’s original servants’ quarters are still entirely intact, although derelict. Mark finds himself strangely drawn to this window onto the past, and when, the next time he visits, the old lady falls asleep, he steals the key and goes to visit the servants’ quarters alone.
And suddenly Mark’s life takes a bizarre turn, as the past seems to collide with the present, dreams invade reality and truths become apparent to this hitherto unperceiving boy.