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Thomas Bloor

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Books that defy categorisation often have a lot to recommend them. Sally Prue’s Ryland’s Footsteps is such a book. It’s setting, an island, cannot quite be placed, either geographically or historically. The characters that come to inhabit it are equally enigmatic in origin, and yet it all remains compellingly real throughout. The story won’t fit into any known genre, and, as with the author’s other novels, Cold Tom and The Devil’s Toenail, no easy moral platitudes are ever in evidence. Instead, the readers find themselves, like the colonists on the island, faced with discoveries and surprises, with wonders and terrors aplenty. The story is woven through with ideas on the nature of individuality and the bonds of family, on how much we owe to ourselves and how much we owe to the accident of our birth. Ryland’s Footsteps is exciting, thought provoking and moving. It’s the sort of book that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it. Here is a story that refuses to remain within known boundaries.


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