Step by wicked step ISBN: 9780140366471
Published by Puffin, 1999
Colin, Claudia, Ralph, Robbo and Pixie arrive at eerie Harwick Hall in the middle of a gothic thunderstorm. The electricity is off, and their teacher (this is a school trip) goes to find food, leaving the children huddled together in a dormitory room. They find a hidden turret behind the one they are in - a bedroom from long ago - and in it they find a diary written by the occupant, Richard Harwick. When they read it, they discover what they all have in common. Like Richard, they are all living in step-families and have two addresses. This brilliant if contrived setting provides a framework for the five children to spend the night telling personal stories. There is something here for everyone. Every possible relationship is explored - some good and some horrendous. THe children's honesty brings out all manner of resentments, sadnesses, and almost impossible situations. The fact that most of the children have come to some sort of resolution of their problems doesn't make the telling any easier. Richard had walked out of his untenable situation years before, leaving tragedy in his wake. These five (with one possible exception) are made of sterner stuff. 'Misery isn't a baton in a relay race. You can't get rid of it just by passing it on.' Outstanding.