Review: The Little Yarnmouth Abduction by Tim Van Minton

**Originally written for “BigAl’s Books and Pals” book blog. Received a free review copy.**

The Little Yarnmouth Abduction by [Van Minton, Tim]

Genre: YA/future fiction

Description: the story is set in the far north of Scotland after climate change has melted the great ice sheets. Little Yarnmouth inhabitants have disappeared because of nefarious plans laid by powerful persons living in Middle Langton, across the bay. The kidnapping is performed by members of tribes roving further south than hitherto because of the thaw. The protagonists are two teenagers, Evan and Nira. They are helped by a middle-aged eccentric who lives very comfortably in the sewers beneath Middle Langton; his regular companions are Corporal Punishment and a very large rat.

Author: Tim Van Minton ‘loves cold places and warm people’. Thereafter, different sources give different information. At the end of the book he says he lives in a boat on the north coast of Scotland with two dogs, finishing his next novel; on Goodreads he says he lives mostly in New York with his wife, son and cat. Van Minton plans a trilogy of which The Little Yarnmouth Abduction is the first book. Meanwhile he has written and published St Georges P.R.S. which is another YA book, with leanings towards the paranormal.

Appraisal: When I was a teenager (back when gin was tuppence a tot) there were no books aimed at teenagers. Once one had consumed the contents of the children’s shelves at the library it was on to Mills & Boon and Zane Grey. This may explain why I enjoy the genre now. And what a rich genre it is for writers!

The book’s premise is intriguing. How will people living near what used to be ice sheets fare when those ice sheets are gone? It makes a nice change from witches, wizards, vampires, werewolves and other urban fantasy tropes.

It is when dealing with boats that the story is strongest; be it a dinghy with an outboard, a power launch, a dilapidated coaster, a tug, a mistreated hover craft or a well-maintained patrol vessel, each vessel is lovingly created and completely credible and pertinent to the story. Van Minton loves his boats. As do I. Everyone in the story has recourse to boats as their primary means of transport. The constant threat to water travel from ice bergs is nicely drawn. There are a few references to how the lost ice impacts the world in other ways.

The plot proceeds briskly. Occasionally elements of it feel a bit as if they have been randomly generated. There is a mushroom fight which is an original idea, but stretches credulity. From time to time the suspension of disbelief is difficult to maintain; for example, at one point three people hide behind adjacent, floor-length curtains and are not discovered.

I wondered, almost from the outset (and before I checked) whether the author was American, rather than Scottish – and so it proved. I didn’t get a feel of Scottishness from the story (despite attempts at dialect): rather a sensation of the Pacific Northwest in the USA. Tribes emerging out of the disappearing pack ice, with strangely Native American names such as Conkwoyoto, might have been more believable in that location.

FYI: When the great ice sheets melt, oceans will rise. Substantially. The book does not deal with that at all. I wondered, as I read it, how come the rise in sea level had made no difference to the island on which Yarnmouth and Middle Langton stand: how had it not flooded the sewers, submerged the quays, driven the population to live on the hills? What about the Faroe Islands (which figure in the story): would they not be drowned? Positing little or no rise in sea levels as the Earth warms up flies in the face of current credible scholarship and feels misleading to me.

Format/Typo Issues:  the book would benefit from a thorough edit. Punctuation and spelling aren’t as reliable as they should be. The odd authorial idiosyncrasy  becomes trying. For example, characters ‘cry’ things to each other frequently, often when they have just been shushing each other because people wishing them harm are in close proximity.

Rating: ***

Page length:  206 pp approx


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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