Cover image for Cold Tom
Cold Tom
Prue, Sally.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2003.

Physical Description:
187 pages ; 23 cm
Struggling to find a place for himself, Tom flees the elven parents who hunt to kill him and becomes involved with human "demons" in the nearby city.
General Note:
Originally published: Oxford, England : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Reading Level:
580 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.4 4.0 70134.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 9 Quiz: 33264 Guided reading level: V.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Part human, part elfin, young Tom struggles to find a place to call home in this striking debut fantasy novel.

Tom is both elfin and human, and running for his life. Cast out from the elfin Tribe, he must hide among the hated humans, whom the Tribe call "demons." Tom's Tribe-half seeks freedom and thrives on a connection with nature which lets him "call on the stars" and turn invisible when in danger. But Tom's human side is emerging, and he is confused and appalled by this change. For he fears the twining emotional bonds, which he sees literally as vines, that bind one human to another. But when he is helped by a kind "demon" girl, it is these strong bonds that save him-and draw him to his true home.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-8. Tom's comparatively poor vision and hearing have made him a danger to his Tribe, who begin to hunt him. An outcast from his own people, he leaves the forest and flees to the nearby city, where loutish demons pursue him and a well-meaning female demon imprisons him. As the story unfolds, Tom's point of view is interspersed increasingly with that of Anna, Joe, and Edie, demons who attempt to help him as best they can, though he does not perceive their actions as in that light. Originally published in England as Cold Tom, this unusual novel creates a strong sense of "otherness" between two cultures and markedly different points of view on the same events. Readers may even experience a shock of revelation when they first recognize the familiar described from an alien viewpoint. With a bracing, involving story and satisfying ending, this first novel will intrigue readers who like stories set at the intersection of fantasy and reality. Book was renamed Cold Tom. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

British author Prue makes a noteworthy debut with this highly polished novel about a boy rejected from his elfin "Tribe." Even beautiful Sia, who "calved" him, and skilled hunter Larn, his "sire," mock Tom for his seemingly feeble senses and his carelessness. Convinced that their son has "demon" (human) characteristics that threaten the tribe, Sia and Larn decide to kill him. But Tom runs away and ends up in the city of the demons, which "smell[s] like death." Tom stumbles into a hut, where he meets a gentle girl named Anna who is hiding from her bullying half-brother. Tom begins to see, as a literal tangle of vines, the bonds that tie together these demons, whom he finds both cruel and inextricably linked to each other. Although he has the ability to temporarily stave off trouble by "calling on the stars" and becoming invisible, Tom eventually realizes he is at the mercy of the imperfect demons, especially Anna, if he hopes to save his life, but he must compromise freedom for his connection to her. Prue gracefully layers her writing, weaving in references to the ballad of Tam Lin. The lyricism of her prose, combined with the startlingly raw and sympathetic views of human behavior, makes her novel both original and gripping. Ages 10-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Tom is different from the other members of his Tribe, and when his lack of grace and sensitive hearing endanger the rest of the elfin community, he is forced to run away. He enters the demons' city, a horrible and dangerous place, especially since he is losing his ability to become invisible. Readers quickly learn that demons are humans, and the main threat they pose is the "vines" of affection and interpersonal relationships. When Tom hides in a shed, he is discovered by Anna, who tries to help him, and her half-brother Joe, who wants to study his behavior. When Tom's hiding place is destroyed, he is rescued by Anna's nosy neighbor Edie, who has secrets of her own. In a chilling and dramatic confrontation, the humans try to save Tom from the Tribe, letting human affection oppose its magic. Prue uses the legend of Tam Lin, as presented from the opposing points of view, to add depth to this intriguing fantasy, and her sure characterization and careful pacing will grab even reluctant readers' attention. Tom's perceptions and thoughts allow information about the Tribe and the "demons" to be developed naturally and gradually. Tension between Anna and Joe adds to the story, and the conclusion stays true to the bittersweet tone of the story. A thoughtful and engaging fantasy that explores multiple real-life themes while telling a compelling story.-Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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