Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Review:- Andrew MATTHEWS – “The Swallow and the Dark”

Publ: 2005
My own copy
ISBN: 13579108642
Genre: Psychology; fantasy; war fiction; young adult;
Pages: 200p
Recommended by / Serendipity
Rating: ***** ****

What led you to pick up this book?
The cover and title/sub-title (Two lives, two wars)

Describe the plot without giving anything away.

A moving tale about mortality - one contemporary; one in the trenches of World War I Sam is sixteen, and at war with his own body, fighting an incurable illness that gives him only months to live. Time has suddenly become very important to him as he now has so little left. Nearly a hundred years ago, another Sam - a lieutenant in the British Army - is off to fight a different kind of war, on the Western Front. He knows that he may well not survive. Linking the two is a girl named Marion. But is Marion just a figment of Sam's imagination - a hallucination caused by his medication - or something far more extraordinary? Could she somehow be. a bridge across time?

What did you think of the characters?
Very realistic and the emotions of each Sam are well described. A very believable set of people.

What did you think about the style?
Powerful and absorbing. Excellent – one of those rare writers who can satisfy both child and adult readers within the same story.

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover.
Simple yet fitting and attractive.

Would I recommend it?
Unconditionally. To all ages.

“Sam hated it when his bopdy went out of control, and he was all illness and no him.”
“Sam had always pictured Hell as being filled with flames, and demons, and the wailing of tormented souls – but Hell was the sound of doors being slammed in the sky, and the ground trembling like jelly, and dark fountains spouting up out of the earth and a sweet-sharp stink of cordite that stung his eyes, nose and throat. Hell relentlessly repeated itself and repeated itself, rupturing time and space, while pale-faced men cowered with their mouths stretched wide to prevent their eardrums from being ruptured by the shock waves from bursting shells.”
“Sam had never seen a corpse before, though he’d heard them described as ‘looking peaceful’, but the young German didn’t look peaceful, only dead. He appeared to have shrunk and something was missing from him, as though he were a Christmas package from which the present has been removed, and at that moment Sam understood death.... Death had no honour, no dignity and no purpose.

Andrew Matthews’s talent is in making complex issues simple, and he relates to CEO's, middle management and high school students with equal ease. He entertains while providing audiences with the tools and inspiration to live more successful and more prosperous lives.


  1. I must commend you, you wildly busy man. I was thinking of you last night when I picked up the book that I am REALLY enjoying, but has taken me over a month to complete the reading of. HOW on earth do you read a book every six days?? I am a fast reader when I like something, and never finish a book that I don't like. How do you do it??!

  2. I just stop talking to anyone, Heather. Easier to do when your children are grown up!!!


Hello folks - your comments are always welcome.