Reviews /

Escape Room

Authored by Christopher Edge
Published by Nosy Crow Ltd

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Ami arrives at The Escape, a ‘locked room’ challenge game centre, there meeting up with four team-mates. Before long, they find themselves pitted against puzzles and challenges that will test their mettle to its utmost. 

Christopher Edge’s most recent novels all take a scientific concept and re-work it in the context of a kind of adventure novel that appeals to deep-thinking children. Escape Room is no exception. The twist at the end of the novel is sensed very strongly throughout the novel pulling you as the reader towards its final unveiling – you know there’s something weird going on with this escape-room challenge but you can’t quite put your finger on it. 

Escape Room makes for an entertaining read (and works well as a read-aloud) for the ten-to thirteen-year-old audience. The plot careers along at a high-octane pace, with not a moment to spare. A narrative pattern is set in motion very quickly in the first few chapters: characters enter a room in The Escape, they pool resources and personal strengths to find solutions to the seemingly impossible and increasingly obscure challenges hidden within, and thus establish their escape (though not without the scars to prove their efforts). A winning formula, especially attractive to the gamers (and ‘Crystal Maze’ fans) in the audience who will be very familiar with the structure. 

Children may be slightly puzzled by the ending – there are a lot of questions that young readers will have as the book ends. While this is of course a very good thing, and would lead to some rich book talk in a classroom situation, some readers may find the strangeness of the ending leaves a bit too much to question. The book also has an intensely unnerving atmosphere, and there is little let up; even with breakneck plotting, some more humour might have lightened the tense atmosphere of threat, especially at the younger end of the target audience.  

Edge’s writing is unmistakably original: he certainly stands out and takes a lead in the field of speculative fiction for children, and his work poses an important challenge to every one of its readers. The books always leave that spectre of unease that lasts a long time after the book has been closed. Escape Room is no exception and, like the macabre devices found within the chambers of Edge’s eponymous creation, is distinctly dark, haunting…strange

Longlisted for the Spark Book Awards Fiction for 9+ Category