From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-In a bone-dry summer during the Great Depression, Matthew, seven, disappears from a small prairie community in Saskatchewan. Soon afterward, Abram Harsich comes to town, and before long nearly everyone has fallen under his mesmerizing spell. He claims to be a meteorologist and enlists local men to help him build a "rainmill" that will bring an end to the crippling drought. Only Matthew's brother Robert, 11, who has visions of his dead Uncle Edmund trying to warn him of something, and bookish Uncle Alden remain skeptical and apart. In time, memories of Matthew fade; then other children disappear. Only Robert really remembers his brother and alone he pieces together what has become of the missing children. Suspense builds to a searing and satisfying climax involving malevolent "traders" from the stars. As odd as this may sound, it is a logical conclusion to a story filled with mystery. The plot is strewn with foreshadowing, portents of evil, and foreboding. In Robert's mind, imagery invoking the desert, ancient Egypt, and the Bible abounds, and the spare prose is poetic in its evocations of both the 20th-century setting and the ancient world. Robert is a strong, stalwart character who loves words and stories, and has some understanding of the universe as mysterious. This unusual, well-written story will definitely exercise readers' imaginations. Choose it for science-fiction fans who are ready for something a little different.Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gr. 8-12. Set in Saskatchewan during its dust-bowl years, Slade's novel begins eerily as seven-year-old Matthew vanishes on his first walk into town alone. Matthew's parents and the entire community appear to accept and forget his disappearance, but a strange set of circumstances leads his 11-year-old brother, Robert, to conclude that Matthew is still alive. It seems that Matthew's disappearance, as well as the vanishing of several other area children, corresponds with the appearance of Abram Hamsich, a stranger who promises to build a rainmaking machine that will end the terrible drought. Hamsich soon has the whole town mesmerized, except for Robert (and his uncle), who gradually realizes Hamsich's horrific true plans. Calling up Ray Bradbury's 1962 classic Something Wicked This Way Comes
and the legend of the immortal soulless wanderer, Slade's haunting story shows the triumph of imperfect hope over manifest evil. Frances BradburnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved