Rob Campbell was born in the blue half of Manchester. He studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Manchester Polytechnic, gaining an honours degree, but the fact that he got a U in his Chemistry O-Level helps to keep him grounded.
Having had a belly full of capacitors and banana plugs, on graduation he transferred his skills to software engineering. He still writes code by day, but now he writes novels by night. Listing his pastimes in no particular order, he loves music, reading and holidays, but he is partial to the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.
His favourite authors are David Morrell, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch & Carlos Ruiz Zafón. He lives in Manchester with his wife and two daughters.
About the book
Budding writer Lorna Bryson is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her father when she meets Monkey Arkwright, the boy who loves to climb. The two strike up an immediate rapport, and Monkey challenges her to write about him, claiming that he can show her things that are worth writing about.
True to his word, Lorna is catapulted into Monkey’s world of climbing and other adventures in the churches, woodlands and abandoned places in and around their home town of Culverton Beck.
When the two teenagers find an ancient coin in the woods, claims from potential owners soon flood in, including the mysterious Charles Gooch, who is adamant that the coin is his. But this is only the opening act in a much larger mystery that has its roots in some dark deeds that took place more than a century earlier.
Combining their talents, Lorna and Monkey set about fitting the pieces together in a tale of budding friendship, train-obsessed simpletons, the shadow of Napoleon and falling pianos.
Although this is YA I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it both younger and older readers. It has the strange appealing kind of charm associated with stories of such ilk as Stand by Me, perhaps because it has an aura of nostalgia, especially at the beginning of the book.
Lorna and Monkey meet whilst Lorna is visiting the grave of a loved one, and Monkey just happens to be climbing and hanging about in the same place. The teenagers strike up an unusual friendship. One that throws them into an exciting adventure, after Monkey finds an unusual coin, that has them questioning everything they know and believe.
The question of whom the coin belongs to draws the two of them into a bizarre adventure of powerful objects and the men who would like to control or use said power.
It’s interesting how Campbell lets the reader wonder and debate the validity of the premise along with the characters. Is it luck or bad luck? Is there any such thing as luck or just happenchance and the right circumstances. Is there any connection to something more substantial, such as the events these objects determine or sway being influenced by faith, illusion, magic or supernatural forces?
It’s an adventurous story of fate, faith, power, magical realism and ultimately one of friendship.
I think this has the potential to be a really good series, especially the combination of Monkey and Lorna, their friendship, the secret societies battling against each other to acquire the strange powerful objects. There is just so much to be drawn from the characters, their relationships and the mystical mystery connected with an abundance of everyday items and the occasional oddity.