Is the name of my first novel for children aged 8+, a ghost story set in London during World War Two. I am currently looking for an agent.
It starts with the arrival of eleven year old Joe at Paddington Station. He has returned from evacuation in Wales and is looking forward to getting back to normal with his parents, a working class couple from Bermondsey. However, since he has been away a lot has changed: his house has been bombed, his mother has moved in with his grandparents, together with other relatives and neighbours, and she is now working as a clippy on the buses.
Joe feels lonely in a house full of adults, none of whom seem to have much time for him. They are only interested in listening to the radio for news of the war in Europe and of his father, who is a gunner in Brussels. Children from his school haven’t returned from evacuation yet; the school was flattened in the Blitz, so he has nothing and no one to play with.
When he can’t cope with the boredom and loneliness, Joe goes off to the crater where his home used to be in the hope of digging up some of his old toys and finds ‘the foundations and jagged remnants of walls, strips of wallpaper still hanging from them like the hair of an old witch. Glass from the shattered windows glints in the afternoon sunlight. Where a pair of houses once stood is the rotten hollow of a solitary giant tooth.’
He also finds Nelly, the girl who used to live next door, sitting on the steps, the only part of the house that remains. But she is not all that she seems to be, which leads to Joe coming face to face with the horrors of war: the loss of things that are precious; air raids and Anderson shelters; the discovery of a friend’s body; and not knowing if he will ever see his father again.