David H. Webb

Anomalos Publishing House

This is a ‘boy-book’.

David Webb makes no apology for it, merely pointing out in the preface the enormous influence of Jane Austen’s Emma on his choice of subject matter. As a teenager in his last year at an all-boys school he had been compelled to make a study of a spoilt heiress who spends four hundred and sixty pages trying—unsuccessfully—to marry off a young friend. Fortunately, no lasting trauma seems to have been resulted.

However, there are moments when I wondered what the book might have been like, had things been otherwise.

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Scott Monk
Random House Australia

‘A mystery is a dull question if there’s not plenty of confusion first.’

A random act of kindness propels Michael, a considerate country boy, into an otherworldly adventure. Tormented at his new city school by the vicious Thornleigh sisters and caught in the middle at home between his siblings, Michael’s life undergoes a strange metamorphosis when he gives a dollar to a homeless man.

He meets the man again in a curious old shop while looking for a fancy dress costume and, realising the man is the proprietor, begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Quite an accurate assessment as it turns out when he is chased, along with his brother and sister, from the party they’re attending. As they escape the Thornleighs and other assorted bullies, they discover the Knock-Knock Door—a gorgeously-ornamented gateway that opens only when given the answers to knock-knock jokes and obscure riddles.

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