Review: Triskellion, by Will Peterson

Triskellion
Will Peterson
Urban Fantasy/Middle Grades
February 2008
Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4116-0
368 pages

Rachel and Adam Newman are fourteen year-old twins, raised in New York City, but sent to England for the summer as their parents settle their divorce. In their mother’s home village, Triskellion, the twins stay with their grandmother, and find that the grandparent and village that should be welcoming and a great place to visit are anything but.  From the time they step off the train to no greeting, it is clear they aren’t welcome there. Their grandmother has a distinct lack of enthusiasm for their visit, they have a run-in with some of the village teenagers (which leaves the twins the worse for wear), and everything is just…strange. “It’s a freaky village,” Adam says early on, “seriously freaky.”

There are a few gems in the otherwise hostile village, though. In the moor outside the small village is a huge chalk carving of a triskelion, for which the village is named, which dates to the village’s bronze-age founding. The chalk carving is described as looking like what I’ve always called a Celtic trinity knot, and is the (metaphorical) heart of both the village and the book. The village chapel holds the tomb and remains of a Crusader with mysterious carvings on his marker, as well as a golden blade that looks as though it is one-third of the great chalk carving in the moor. Then there is Gabriel, a boy about their age, who the villagers are distrustful of and uncomfortable around–though he’s one of the only people there to welcome the twins’ visit. The other friendly face in the village is Jacob Honeymaker, who lives on the edge of the village, tends his bees, and collects the ancient coins and artifacts he finds in the moor.

It is pretty clear from the get go, to both the reader and the twins, that something is going on in Triskellion. There are secrets upon secrets, and no one is telling them anything. Triskellion was a little slow for me at the start, allowing me to set is aside while I read other novels, but when I came back to it, I found that I’d stopped right about the point where it really picks up pace. As soon as I started again, I was hooked, and I finished in one final sitting. The mystery of the town’s strangeness is pushed to the fore when a television show, Treasure Hunters, comes to the village to investigate the great chalk carving. There’s nothing like flushing out secrets via publicity.

I liked the way some of the fantastical elements of the story were handled. It was more about the twins unraveling the many secrets of the village than about the paranormal–even if the paranormal aspect was key. Early in the story, we see that Rachel and Adam have a strong connection to one another, able to feel what the other is feeling, and at some point I realized that they were able to speak mind to mind. It sneaked up on me, and I half want to go back to find out if it started after stuff began happening in the village, or if they came to England with the ability. Either way, I thought it was handled well, not obtrusive, and not a crutch. The same can be said of all the paranormal elements. They were slipped in and they worked well.

As I was racing through the last half of the novel, I was practically biting my finger nails in anxiety. I kept thinking that surely such things didn’t happen in middle grades books…apparently I’m uneducated in the ways of thriller mysteries for younger readers. This encouraged me to check out more stories for this age range. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The closing scene feels a bit off, and it was only when I realized that this is part of a trilogy that it made sense; otherwise if felt a little stilted. While the major plot is resolved, there are still outstanding questions as the narrative closes, and I was very much “Hey! But what about this? Or this?” I hope that those two questions (which are spoilery, so I won’t share here) are answered in the sequels. I want to know what’s the what.

Triskellion is the first of a trilogy, written by Mark Billingham and Peter Cocks, under the pen name of Will Peterson. The second in the trilogy, Triskellion: The Burning is already out in hardcover and comes out in paperback next month. The third book of the trilogy, Triskellion: The Gathering, releases September 14 in hardcover.

Visit Mark Billingham’s Website. Visit Peter Cocks’ Website.

Random note: the cover pictured here isn’t the cover of the edition I have. Apparently I found a special store-exclusive edition, and I cannot find an image anywhere online, and haven’t yet had the chance to scan it. I suspect the one above is the one you’ll see in stores, though.

Full disclosure on how I came to have this novel: I bought it at ye olde big box book retailer.

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About Jessica

Dork extraordinaire, that's me! An unhealthy knowledge of Star Trek, a love of books, a fondness for purring cats.
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15 Responses to Review: Triskellion, by Will Peterson

  1. Kah Woei says:

    Sounds like an exciting read. The name Jacob Honeymaker strikes me as amusing too considering his occupation. 🙂

    Visiting you back from the Hop.

    • Jessica says:

      Jacob is one of those people whose family stayed in the business that gave them their family name, much like someone with the last name Smith coming from a long line of metal-workers.

      I’m glad I stumbled over this book in the store. Sometimes purchasing whims work out well. 🙂

  2. Shannon says:

    Ooh this sounds good! I don’t read many books in the younger years these days but I like to follow up on recommendations 🙂

    I keep confusing the title of this book with another trilogy called “Triskelia” by Carrie Mac (I’ve read the first book, The Droughtlanders, and it was excellent, btw) – does the word have a special meaning I wonder? I had just assumed it was made up but maybe it’s Gaelic or something…?

    • Jessica says:

      It was a fun read, and I’m glad for whatever whim that led me to picking it up. I’ve always thought of triskelions looking like the examples given in this wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triskelion, but in the book the giant chalk carving that they’re calling a triskellion (I wonder if the double “l” is a British spelling thing, too, since the US spelling has a single “l”…) is described as looking rather like this: http://www.kiwicraftmirrors.co.uk/Html/Celtic%20Trinity%20Knot.htm

      Just to look at the word, I’m guessing it has a Greek root. I’m quite rusty, but the “tri” seems self-explanatory, given that all the examples above are three-part symbols. I’d hazard that “skel” means “leg.” “Ion” and “ia” are suffixes.

      Now I’m curious about The Droughtlanders…I’ll be checking it out.

  3. Nicole says:

    I actually bought this book (Triskellion, Book one of the series) at this random book sale – all books priced at two dollars (isn’t that out-of-the-worldly cheap?). I thought it was an ordinary book, but well, it proved me SOOO wrong. It was so, so, so stunningly INTERESTING!!! I bought the 2nd book and then the 3rd one, and I am totally waiting in nail-biting suspense for the 4th one, Witchfinder!!!
    P.S. Rachel and Gabriel FOREVVVAAA!!!

    • Jessica says:

      I haven’t moved onto the second or third books in the series, yet. I AM curious to see what else happens, especially given the preview of book 2 that’s in the back of my copy of book 1. I’m glad to know it stays interesting. 🙂

    • Helena says:

      Nicole
      I think that witchfinder is actually a follow up series that really doesn’t have anything to do with the original characters I’m not to sure but that’s what I got from the Website and do you know if it is out yet I’ve been dying to read it
      Yes I agree Rachel and Gabriel forever!!! I wish there ha been more scenes between them In The books though!!!

  4. Eva says:

    I read it… It’s not Jacob Honeymaker It’s HoneyMAN

  5. Anyesha says:

    cant wait 4 fourth book!!!! wens is it out?????????

  6. Pingback: The Shelves are Groaning – VII/11 | Giraffe Days

  7. Anna-book-luvva says:

    Omg COME ON witchfinder!!! When are you out!!!!
    P.S: nobody seems to care about Morag, Duncan, Jean-Brenard, Jean-Luc, Inez and Carmen any more!

    • Jessica says:

      lol. I think people were just so invested in the original characters that the others–Morag, Duncan, et al, don’t get the love.

    • Robyn says:

      Agreed. Poor Morag and Duncan. They were only eight. They lived most their lives in Hope project and watched their parents drown. Waiting for new book witchfinder. Omg Rachels pregnant!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Ciara Barclay says:

    i own this book and the two following it i have to admit its a must read the way the story dramatically continues is phenomenal as the twins and gabriel travel round the globe being constantly pursued

  9. Edgar heath says:

    read all of them and they are fantastic but taking ages for the 4th book whan is it out!!

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