The Battle for Duncragglin
The Battle for Duncragglin
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Catalog Number: #4092582
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Tundra Books
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition Date: c2009
Pages: ix, 310 p.
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-88776-886-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-88776-886-6
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Twelve-year-old Alex travels to Scotland, where his parents mysteriously disappeared years before. Staying near the ruins of a castle, he and three local children travel back in time over seven centuries and find themselves in the middle of a bloody conflict involving Scottish hero William Wallace. Threats of imprisonment, torture, and hanging become very real to the children, who want to return to their own era but do not understand the device that enabled their journey back in time. The lack of meaningful character development may limit readers' emotional involvement with the story, but the plot takes some interesting twists along the way. Those looking for headlong adventure featuring a stouthearted lad, a black-hearted villain, scenes of bloody violence, and details of survival techniques will not be disappointed. The surprising choice Alex makes at the novel's end hints of possible sequels to come.
Kirkus Reviews
Uncle Larry ships orphan Alex Macpherson off to Scotland to stay with his aunt Fiona, but she turns up ill and parks him with the McRaes, whose farm is near the ruins of Duncragglin Castle. Of the three McRae children, Alex fits between Annie and Willie, although much older than Craig, whom he clearly has to win over. A clandestine outing to explore a possible underground entrance to the castle pulls them together, since all of the kids have had at least one parent disappear. A sudden travel through time shunts them into the 13th century to meet William Wallace and many of his supporters, as well as his dreaded enemies. The resultant violent death, gore and treachery quotient is high, but the bloodletting is never realistically portrayed, the threat of torture and hanging acting only as plot points that move events along with minimal emotional impact. The mix between present pain and past events provides the most intriguing aspect of the decisions made by all. Likely the first of a series, the focus is on adventure and fantasy over all other elements. Entertainingly inconsistent. (Fantasy. 9-13)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7 Twelve-year-old Alex McPherson, who has been living with his uncle ever since the mysterious disappearance of his parents several years earlier, is set to spend the summer with his aunt in Scotland. When she gets sick, he is sent to live with the McRae family on their farm beneath the ruins of the castle Duncragglin. Mrs. McRae is missing as well and Alex soon gets the sense that the castle ruins have something to do with all of the strange disappearances. On a middle-of-the-night exploration of the caves underneath the ruins, he and his new friends are transported back in time to the 11th century, where William Wallace and his followers are fighting for their freedom against the English. Is this where all of the people have been going? And will Alex find his parents there? This book fills a hole in the historical fiction genre by showcasing Scotland in the Middle Ages. It will appeal to reluctant boy readers with its many battle scenes, descriptions of torture devices, and darkly humorous lines. Fans of the movie Braveheart will adore this book. There are a few moments where the action bogs down with too much description, but this is still an appealing, well-researched adventure. Kathleen Meulen, Sakai Intermediate School, Bainbridge Island, WA
Voice of Youth Advocates
Ever since his parentsÆ mysterious disappearance, twelve-year-old Alex has passed from one indifferent relative to another. As the novel opens, he flies to Scotland to spend the summer with his Aunt Fiona, who is so disinterested that she farms him out to her neighbors, the MacRaes. While exploring the ruins of nearby Duncragglin Castle, Alex and the MacRae children stumble upon a network of caves beneath the ruins. The caves contain a time-travel chamber, and the children are suddenly transported to the thirteenth century. Plenty of action follows as they find themselves in the middle of William WallaceÆs military campaign. They join the fight while searching desperately for a way back into the castle and the subterranean time-travel chamber. This interesting blend of historical fiction and time travel fantasy is likely to appeal to fans of both genres. The characters, although likeable, could use more development. Plot is the focus, sometimes at the expense of reality. The language of WallaceÆs time would have been Early Scots, not the English of modern Scotland or North America. The modern and thirteenth-century characters would not have been able to understand each other, but this flaw will bother librarians more than readers. It remains a rip-roaring adventure story filled with action, humor, and quite a lot of bloodshed, providing a great guy read that should also appeal to fans of historical fiction and fantasy.ùAmy Fiske.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (4/1/09)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (7/1/09)
Voice of Youth Advocates
Word Count: 76,069
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 11.0 / quiz: 130461 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.4 / points:19.0 / quiz:Q47383
Lexile: 710L

Set in the time of William Wallace, this is historical fiction at its bloody best!

One of history’s most turbulent times comes to vivid life in this thrilling new novel. Twelve-year-old Alex has been raised by his uncle since his parents disappeared on a trip to Scotland many years ago. He’s resigned to spending the summer in Scotland with yet another relative and finds himself on a farm near the ruined remnants of an ancient castle that is rumored to be haunted. Could it have a connection to his parents’ disappearance?

With three newfound friends, Alex sets out to discover the secret of a sealed cave along the rugged coast that borders the farm. The secret is far more powerful than anything they could have imagined, and they are catapulted to the very brink of a hellish past — the bloody late 13th century when the great Scottish rebel, William Wallace, was fighting a guerilla-style military campaign.

Full of high drama as well as humor, bloodshed, and great tenderness, this fine novel marks the arrival of a major voice in historical fiction.

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