The Bus Stop at the End of the World ISBN: 9781785621994
Published by Gomer Press, 2017
Twelve year old Ritchie has problems. He's started at a new school in year 7 having just moved to Pembrokeshire, and he can't yet read. He's also a bit of a loner, and his father has been 'blown up' in Afghanistan, which means his legs don't work properly and he is bitter - not only about his disability, but because Ritchie's mum has left. Ritchie is often the brunt of his dad's bitterness, calling him a 'waste of space' and other blunt and hard names, and while he and his dad love each other, and often share good times, they are also wary. The cottage they have moved to is in a rural part of Pembrokeshire on the side of a hill looking out to sea, and Ritchie spends a lot of his time at the bus stop down the lane. He plays games with stones in the dirt, pretending they are soldiers at Camp Bastion and arranging them in patterns. He is seriously bullied at school by a gang of three brothers who, along with the fact that he is constantly teased because of his reading problems, make life there a misery. The bus shelter is his favourite place to be, and it is here that he begins to encounter strange and unusual people and beings. There is a crow who listens, a couple of cowboys who turn up, a lady in a woolly hat and coat, two witches, a wonderful green creature who lives in the hedge and has immense strength, and a very knowing sheep. Buses are only occasional at this shelter, which is just as well! One takes Ritchie to school, another takes people to Carmarthen, and a third goes south towards Swansea. But the strange goings-on that soon emerge have nothing to do with buses or ordinary traffic. It turns out Ritchie is a 'one off'', who can 'see stuff - ancient things, strange creatures, things other people would think of as made up', and the bus shelter is an 'intersection' of ancient lines. In other words, we are in fantasy country here, and what a fantasy it is! What an adventure too! Ritchie and his new friend, Annie Bike, two years older and very sure of herself, are soon in the thick of why these strange beings have suddenly appeared on the scene. It's a wonderful, exciting tale, and in the telling of it, Ritchie grows and begins to look at himself and the world around him as a very different place. He begins the tough road to learning to read, he starts to cope with the bullies, and he and his dad become closer and more able to deal with each other's problems. Right from the beginning, the atmosphere is heavy with mystery and magic, and in Ritchie we meet an ordinary boy with special powers and a lot more going for him than he suspects. A great read!