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|I'm the King of the Castle|
EDMUND HOOPER lives with his father at Warings, a large house in the country, and he is not pleased with CHARLES KINGSHAW and his mother arrive – Mrs. Kingshaw is to be their housekeeper and hopes that the eleven year old boys will be great friends. They become enemies on sight and the novel is about the struggle between them. Kingshaw is uncertain, sensitive, pleasant, weak – and on strange
ground. Hooper is sly, manipulative, mean and a bully and he makes Charles’s life hell. The tables are turned as their roles are briefly reversed when they get lost in Hang Wood but the overall winner of the conflict is never in doubt. Meanwhile, the adults have their own agenda.
‘Susan Hill’s exploration of a juvenile ghoul and his natural prey is a brilliant tour de force.’
Penguin paperback ISBN 978-0140034912 7.99
‘Not only is the bully unpleasant but the parents are tragically lacking in awareness and genuine love for the children. They seem naive and pre-occupied with their own worlds. But then, perhaps some children and adults are like this and so, from this superbly constructed and insightful story we have much to learn.’
‘A breathtaking tale of two young boys who through circumstances out of their control find themselves sharing a home. Neither of them is happy about this. What follows is a powerful tale of how cruel children can be, and of the terror and misery that is caused by bullies. This is a dark, heartbreaking book with a shocking finale.
Adults and teenagers should read this, it will be sure to provoke plenty of discussions amongst its readers.’
I went to stay in a remote farm cottage behind a wood in the summer of 1968 to write another book. While I was there, the farmer’s grandson and a friend were staying and often came by my cottage chatting and sometimes fighting – and the story emerged from there, though the real boys were not at all like Hooper and Kingshaw. The episode of the Crow really happened - to me, Hang Wood really existed, the farm and the village and Warings were all as I described them.
The book has had an extraordinary impact – some adults cannot take it because they do not believe young boys can behave in this way but plenty of young people have told me that this sort of cruelty and unkindness is common - it’s what we call bullying and it goes on more and more, of course. Although I wrote it as an adult novel, as a result of being set for GCSE for many years it has become one that young people read and usually find a lot in it to think about and discuss.