Cover image for Something dangerous
Something dangerous
Redmond, Patrick.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [1999]

Physical Description:
343 pages ; 25 cm
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Kirkston Abbey is no place for weak or sensitive boys. Jonathan Palmer cant believe his good fortune when Richard Rokeby seeks out his friendship. Rokeby is everything Jonathan is not: wealthy, strong, handsome, aloofeven the professors cant touch him. As the bond between the two boys deepens, Rokeby grows increasingly possessive. Soon, Jonathan comes to realize that there is something not quite right about his new friend. Something a bit off-kilter. Something... dangerous. What started out as an innocent game among schoolboys turns into a nightmare as Jonathan finds himself powerless to stop Richard from unleashing a diabolical force that threatens to consume them all.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Vulnerable Jonathan Palmer, of lower-class origins but attending an exclusive English boarding school in the mid-1950s, meets a charismatic classmate with a personality so strong and independent that he seems impervious to the people and activities around him. But Richard Rokeby's imperviousness hides a madness, partly born of family tragedy. Richard very slowly befriends Jonathan, fighting his battles, keeping bullies at bay, but also separating him from other friends. Nicholas Scott, closest to Jonathan, is the first to grasp the significance of Richard's chilling persona. The others, like twin brothers, Michael and Stephen, raised to respect the powers of good and evil, keep their distance as the boys begin to indulge in dangerous games summoning evil powers. One of Jonathan's torturers is badly hurt in a rugby accident, another is struck by a car after an apparent sleepwalking incident. Adults in this grim, cloistered world of the boarding school aren't safe either from the growing power of Richard and his reluctant accomplice. Every attempt to wrest Jonathan from Richard's evil influence surfaces some hidden weakness or past indiscretion on the part of teachers or their spouses and is mysteriously turned against them. When Jonathan's fears climax, his friends' efforts to help him cost them their lives. Nicholas, the only survivor, is haunted by the memories, but few believe his tale of evil. The truth is buried under official explanations until an ambitious reporter, looking for fame and fortune, unearths the past. Fans of tales of demonic possession will enjoy this chilling story of youth and innocence seduced by satanic powers. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

Right from the hair-raising start of this stunning debut, readers will know that something awful is going to happen at the British boys' boarding school, Kirkston Abbey. Thanks to Redmond's masterfully subtle foreshadowing, a brooding sense of impending disaster is maintained throughout his gripping suspense thriller. Set in the late '50s and bookended by a pair of scenes in which a reporter introduces and closes the story, the narrative centers on loner Richard Rokeby. "Arrestingly good looking," sharp-tongued, smart and aloof, Rokeby unnerves schoolmasters and students alike. James Wheatley, campus tough guy, will do anything to impress and befriend Rokeby, but Rokeby gives his friendship to sensitive Jonathan Palmer instead. Rokeby and Palmer recognize an indefinable "something" that bonds them intensely, and during one school holiday, they play an angry little game on a Ouija board. The details given to the reader are scant at first, but the eventual violent results are terrifyingly vivid. Rokeby becomes possessive of Palmer, domineering and jealous, evolving into an amoral monster and coolly rattling all the skeletons in the closets of Kirkston Abbey's faculty and students. Redmond tantalizes with his miserly description of those secrets, adding to the novel's cumulative power; an aura of tangible menace hisses behind the narrative's unfolding like a slow fuse heading for dynamite. There's a dark fairy tale at the core of the mystery (both Palmer and Rokeby have serious stepmother issues) and a kind of ethical dilemma for readers, who will not know whom to root for as the villains and heroes mutate and shift positions. The climax is refreshingly nonformulaic. Readers will welcome a writer bold enough to leave some things to the imagination, especially when that audacity is accompanied by the finesse Redmont displays here. $150,000 ad/promo. (Sept.) FYI: London lawyer Redmond's novel has been published in the U.K. as The Wishing Game. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The lives of four British schoolboys are drastically altered when one of them befriends the school rebel, a young man consumed by rage whose only joy seems to be outsmarting and humiliating those around him. The two boys begin to play with a Ouija board, which unleashes an evil power and apparently gives them the ability to learn the exploitable secrets of those around them. While it paints a vivid and harrowing picture of life at a claustrophobic British boys' school, complete with hazing, harassment, and homosexuality, this book never quite gets off the ground. Certain crucial details are omitted, such as the origin of the evil power or exactly how the boys are able to discover the skeletons in everyone's closets. Regrettably, just as the action picks up, first novelist Redmond begins to tell the story from the point of view of another boy, an outsider to the evil doingsÄa narrative strategy that does little for what could have been a fairly exciting conclusion. Recommended only for larger libraries.ÄLisa Bier, Albuquerque P.L., NM (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.