Sometimes a book comes along that blows you away. Winner of the 2020 Carnegie Medal, 'Lark' by Anthony McGowan is absolutely magnificent. A stunning piece of work, worthy of being recognised as a future classic.

Nicky and Kenny set off across the Yorkshire moors on a mini-trek. It's a good chance for them to talk, to let off steam. Their mum is soon coming to visit them and they haven't seen her in a long time. But as they make a short-cut over a hill, the snow descends. Quickly the boys are plunged into danger, and they might not even make it out alive.

Wow! There is so much to praise about 'Lark'. Where to start? Firstly, it is worth noting that while this is aimed at 13+ the reading age is from 9. But the language used is sublime, masterly, without ever feeling over-done. Poetic, gritty, simple to the point of being mythic, the writing is pitch-perfect. It makes an aspiring writer such as myself blush, stunned. McGowan paints a vivid and sensual picture of a snowy and treacherous moors. Through Nicky's perspective we feel the cold bone-deep - the majesty and power of nature in all its wild force. McGowan also expertly gets into the heads of these young boys and the dialogue is spot-on and tremendously funny. There are swear words and multiple references to arses, while they also talk of old tales, such as King Arthur, enriching the story with both a sense of history and a smell of the profane. The whole of life is on display here, evoked beautifully while being rough around the edges. The drama and tension created when the boys reach crisis-point is superbly written and I gripped the pages, feeling ice layer my knuckles.

'Lark' is a mini-masterpiece. It is so deserving of its accolades. 'Lark' just simply sings. If you haven't read it, do so right now!

© 2021 by Chris Soul