The concept of The Crate: A Ghost Story is sound, a mysterious artefact that offers the opportunity to explore the darker worlds of the supernatural. Textbook stuff from someone as accomplished as James Norcliffe, and it definitely gives a good few twists and turns along the way.
Norcliffe is a master writer, his beautiful The Loblolly Boy was rightly lauded across a number of fields including winning the NZ Post Junior Fiction award. Delving deep into the magic bag with The Crate, Norcliffe’s writing gets the reader to consider their own perspective on things in the unknown realm, and to really draw out their own conclusions to the mysteries within.
Supernatural tropes have become fairly well trodden fodder for young adult fiction, often with highly predictable endings, and it is here that Norcliffe’s ability really shines through. He is the master of the turn and misdirection, giving the reader a thoroughly orchestrated change to keep you guessing.
Set in the South Island over the time span of a few days, a group of teenagers find an unexpected crate in their holiday bach - one they knew very well but never expected to find a mystery such as the crate - and despite all the warnings from within themselves and from their elders, can’t help investigating. What they find leads them on all kinds of mysteries from the past and a different look at the sleepy town of Tunamoana.
Without doubt, this is a book that will thrill and surprise. It gives a wonderful narrative set in a hybrid of the supernatural and science fiction genres with everything young readers expect from their favourite scary books.
Well worth the read, a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read.
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Quentin Wilson Publishing