Intrusion: A Relative Invasion
“In 1937, England, the threat of war in Europe is matched by that at home for five-year-old Billy. His battle begins when he is introduced to his frail and artistic cousin, Kenneth. Adored by adults for his porcelain looks and toothpaste smile, Kenneth is a psychological bully. Smaller than Billy, although older, he displays the same emotions that allow Hitler’s rise to power – envy over strength, desire for new territory. With emotionally distant parents, a bullying uncle and a manipulative cousin, Billy starts to stutter. Unexpected challenges lie ahead and Billy must learn to meet them.” (back cover information)
Written from the view of a small boy, dealing with life corrupted by traumatic situations, the author very skilfully portrays the misery of being bullied. Kenneth is the bully, and it is only as his life begins to unfold that his own insecurities are revealed.
Billy, un-supported by his indifferent parents, faces the start of World War II and has to endure evacuation and the terror of the Blitz. To survive, he retreats into his own world where he imagines that he owns a Cossack sabre. The weapon becomes a talisman and his mainstay through hardships and the awful reality that is war.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The research is meticulously done with convincing historical detail – without descending into a history lesson, although at times the thoughts of the child appeared rather too sophisticated for one so young and the dialogue was perhaps a little heavy, but the characters are carefully drawn and very believable as real people. I look forward to reading future episodes.