‘Cleverly-written, historically-accurate, drama-filled and oozes with tension… perfect for fans of Fleur Hitchcock, Eloise Williams and Catherine Fisher.’
Title: The Comet and the Thief
Author: Ruth Morgan (@alienruth)
Cover designer: Gary Evans (@GwasgGomerPress)
Publisher: Gwasg Gomer (@GwasgGomerPress)
Page count: 231
Date of publication: 26th September 2019
Series status: N/A
Perfect for Year 5, Year 6 and Year 7.
1. Book 📖
2. Thief 👌
3. Curse ✨
The Comet and the Thief is a fresh, fantasy time-slip between two periods in British history: Georgian and Medieval.
Kit, a born actor, hates being a thief in eighteenth century London.
When wicked Lord Colwich hires him to steal a missing page from a mysterious medieval book in his library, it results in Kit having to flee the city…
Review: Thrown headlong in to the mid-seventeen hundreds otherwise known as the Georgian era, The Comet and the Thief begins with an opening that oozes all kinds of tension and swells and stirs from the first chapter. As we encounter protagonist Kit in the middle of performing a demonic fortune-telling ritual in the outlandish character of Ashentoth for a group of wealthy men, this story starts in the same compelling and captivating manner as it means to go on.
The character of Kit develops rapidly and the reader soon finds themselves rooting in more ways than one for the devilish exploits of this wiry, mischievous do-gooder. Caring for his love, Gabe, who is suffering with all of his heart and soul, Kit is quickly dragged back under in to the heady underworld of what he knows best: thieving, when a stranger who goes by the name of Lord Colewich requests his services to find a missing page of a book he has long sought after.
‘The only magic in life is the magic we make for ourselves…’
What Kit doesn’t realise is that this book holds more power than he could have ever imagined, and of which connects him to the inhabitants of a cursed village from the past – two historical time periods associated by the appearance of a well-known comet (Read Ruth’s Q&A for more below!). So how will Kit save them before it’s too late…?
This is such a cleverly-written, historically-accurate, drama-filled and imaginative novel that will thrill and delight readers young and old; perfect for fans of Fleur Hitchcock, Eloise Williams and Catherine Fisher. Thank you Ruth for taking me along on this alluring, immersive and gripping adventure.
Author Q & A: The Comet and the Thief
with Ruth Morgan
The cover of the book is very mysterious and striking: a silhouetted someone running away from a place which seems familiar…
Yes, it’s a brilliant cover, isn’t it? Designed by Gary Evans at Gomer Press. That’s my main character Kit running away from the city of Bath where something very public and shocking has just happened, and Kit is bound to get the blame. I’ve always loved Bath. When I was a teenager, my cousin lived nearby, and we used to travel in on the bus and buy our clothes from the antique markets, usually a fashion mash-up of army greatcoats and Victorian petticoats. It was a pleasure to research the history of that splendid place and use it as a setting for the story.
So Kit travels around a lot in the story, but he also travels in time, doesn’t he?
That’s right. Time travel stories are wonderful, but I wanted a give the time travel in this story a new twist, so instead of travelling between our modern day and an historical period, Kit travels between what is to us, two periods in British History: Georgian and Medieval times, specifically 1759 and 1456 which are two of the years when Halley’s Comet has appeared in our skies.
There may be readers who’ve never heard of Halley’s Comet. Can you tell them a bit about it?
I’ve heard Halley’s Comet described, rather disrespectfully, as a huge, dirty snowball with a tail, which travels through space. It’s named after Sir Edmond Halley who calculated when it would return to the Earth back in the eighteenth century. It makes a complete orbit around the sun and back every 75 years or so. It last visited us in 1986 and is due its next visit in 2061. For the sake of the story I’m most interested in how it’s been feared throughout history as a bringer of wondrous or calamitous events. It’s been suggested that the star of Bethlehem which the three wise men followed was actually Halley’s Comet. It is also pictured on the Bayeux Tapestry, heralding the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Very intriguing… but The Comet and the Thief has been published hard on the heels of your MG gaming-themed novel Ant Clancy Games Detective (published by Firefly Press). Two such different themes! What attracts you to write about a particular subject?
Yes, these two books are very different, but I only enjoy writing about subjects which interest me. I live in a family of keen gamers and I also love history so the link between these themes is…me! More than anything, what I want to do is write a compelling story that’s going to keep my readers entertained from start to finish. As long as I can do that, I’m happy whatever the subject.
You’ve been writing for a long time. What started you off and what keeps you interested in writing for children?
Yes, I have been writing for ages but it’s mainly my other part-time job as a primary teacher that keeps me interested. Children tend not ‘block’ – or repress – their ideas the way adults do, and they are a ceaseless source of inspiration. My first book was published more than 20 years ago as a direct result of my writing stories for the reception class I was teaching at the time. An editor from a very big reading scheme company visited our school to trial some new books. When she saw my stories, she offered to publish one in a new series they were putting together. Imagine my excitement; I had always assumed that getting published professionally was way out of my reach! It led on to my writing lots more picture books, short stories, non-fiction, poetry, plays and longer novels for a variety of publishers as well as scripts for animation and radio series. And all of it snowballed from that one chance meeting at school. It still amazes me, how it’s all worked out…
So it takes luck as well as hard work to become an author?
It has in my case. But more than anything you have to want to write, really want to, if you hope to make a career of it. It’s not a smooth road by any means and you face loads of rejection. You have to be motivated and believe in your ability, but also be prepared to accept criticism. You love and believe in your work but can’t be too precious about it – it’s a weird balance.
What do you plan to write next?
There are very few moments when you might catch me at a time when I’m not writing or planning something new but – scarily – you have caught me at one of them. Launching two books so close together has meant a very busy schedule of late but I know I will get twitchy soon if I’m not feeling that buzz from creating something new. I am sure Ant Clancy has more mysteries to solve. I am also attracted to the idea of writing some short, ghostly stories for children, similar to my collection ‘Matchstick Man and Other Creepy Tales’ (Gomer Press). I loved ghost stories as a child and still do.
…And finally, what are you reading at the moment?
Funnily enough, a book of ghost stories! Three Strikes (Firefly Press), a collection from Lucy Christopher, Kat Ellis and Rhian Ivory. Creepily enjoyable!
Big thanks to Ruth for inviting me to kick off The Comet and the Thief blog tour and for being such a brilliant interviewee with her insightful answers to these questions.