Fourteen-year-old Davie and his best friend, Geordie, are altar boys at their local Catholic Church. They’re full of mischief, but that all changes when Stephen Rose comes to town. Father O’Mahoney thinks it would be a good idea for Davie and Geordie to befriend him—maybe some of their good nature will rub off on this unhappy soul. But it’s Stephen who sees something special in Davie.
Stephen’s a gifted sculptor. One day as Davie looks on, Stephen brings a tiny figure to life. It’s a talent he has, the gift of creation—and he knows that Davie has this talent, too. Davie allows Stephen to convince him to help bring a life-size figure to life—and Clay is born. Clay is innocent, but Stephen has special plans for him.
What has Davie helped to unleash on the world?
Perhaps the most unsettling of Almond's supernatural novels (Skellig; Kit's Wilderness) this eerie tale shows the disastrous effects of two boys attempting to play God. At his priest's request, altar boy David befriends a new member of the parish, Stephen, who has come to live with his "crazy" Aunt Mary after his father dies suddenly and his mother becomes mentally ill. It becomes immediately apparent to David, who narrates, that Stephen, who has left the school where he was studying to be a priest, is different from other boys. Stephen claims to have communicated with an angel, yet questions the existence of God. He also appears to be blessed with a remarkable talent for molding figures out of clay. Most amazing of all, he possesses the ability to bring his creations to life. David raises provocative issues as he grapples with the meaning of these events ("Do you think... that an artist is a kind of God?" he asks his art teacher). Stephen believes that with David's help, he can create a life-size being that will "stand up and walk beside us and protect us." Only after the two succeed in constructing a "monster" out of clay does David discover that the act of creation can lead to destruction and that Stephen is not what he appears to be. Almond's story contains chilling images of temptation, mind control and corruption. Readers will remain on the edge of their seats to find out if the good in David can overcome unleashed evil. Ages 12-up.