The hairy hands ISBN: 9780141302782
Published by Puffin, 1999
Tom, the difficult and spiky one, and Jessica, the easy-going, laid-back one,live with their father, a widower. When Clem and her two sons enter their lives, they are appalled - Tom because Felix, the older of the two boys, is his arch rival on the school football team, and Jessica to a lesser degree because the new stepfamily is black. Tom and Felix really hate each other and fight physically each time they are together. The younger boy, Jack, is disabled with a twisted leg and foot and has had to undergo much pain and surgery. He and Jessica quickly become friends. The family goes off to Dartmoor for a holiday at Uncle Pete's cottage, but things are not better there. Jessica becomes very interested in local legends, particularly one about hairy hands that cause terrible accidents. In a horrifying climax, involving an escaped prisoner, the family is almost killed, and the experience brings the two boys together. The atmosphere is suitably spooky throughout,and there is enough evidence that the boys were coming to terms with their new family life before the accident to make the happy ending believable. Woodcuts at the beginning of each chapter help along the strong ghostly atmosphere, but the real strength is in the relationships.