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For some months, Katie’s mother has woken screaming from a recurring nightmare. Katie becomes convinced the dream is a buried childhood memory, and that her mother needs to remember to overcome it. She finds out where her mother grew up and persuades her to go back, ostensibly for a holiday, in reality for Katie to track down her estranged grandfather. The seaside town is out-of-season, bleak, beset by storms and high spring tides, and the subject of a legend that the beach and waters are haunted by the crying of a child and the howling of a grief-stricken man.

What emerges are the events of a terrible accident fifty years before, when a cliff fell into the sea, taking cottages and their inhabitants with it. The failure to rescue a small child has haunted Katie’s family ever since – an incident depicted in photographs in the museum – the child and a lifeboatman vainly reaching out as a wave sweeps her away. As real and supernatural events build to a stormy climax, Katie uncovers that her mother was the small child used in a filmed re-enactment of the tragedy, terrified at being forced by her father to play the part of the drowning child again and again and again. An uncompromising story of a young child’s abuse through the greed and insensitivity of adults, and of the destructive power of guilt.

Reviews

LORD OF THE DANCE: 'An intriguing and well-written psychological novel.'
The Northern Echo
THE BURNING 'The insidiousness of evil is beautifully handled in Allen's exploration of jealousy and revenge.'
JANNI HOWKER in TES
The writing style is exceptional ... Highly recommended, school libraries should add THE BURNING to their collection and explore other titles by this gifted author.
Beth Ashworth, Teacher Librarian, Fiction Focus
THE BURNING 'The writing is tense and the complex plotting assured, which adds up to an exciting, imaginative tale ...'
BOOKS FOR KEEPS
LORD OF THE DANCE: 'This is a fascinating book which will not remain long on the shelves but should certainly be available for young teenage readers.'
The School Librarian
THE SPRING ON THE MOUNTAIN: 'Elemental is exactly the word to describe its strange plot. ... Spellbinding.'
Manchester Evening News