________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 19 . . . . May 27, 2005


Shades of Red. (Glen Eagle Trilogy, 3).

K.C. Dyer.
Toronto, ON: Boardwalk, 2005.
270 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 1-55002-545-7.

Subject Headings:
Time travel-Juvenile fiction.
Children with disabilities-Juvenile fiction.
Inquisition-Spain-Juvenile fiction.
Great Britain-History-Henry VIII, 1509-1547-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Libby McKeever.

***1/2 /4


7:17 a.m.

January sixth.

For just over seven hours she had been fourteen years old.

Under normal circumstances, this would have been cause for some celebration, but as Darrell flopped back down in her bed, she'd never felt less like celebrating. Clear evidence of just how far from normal circumstances had become.

Without turning her head she reached over to her bedside table and felt around until she found her latest notebook, given to her as school ended for the holidays. Given to her by one Professor Myrtle Tooth.

The morning light in the room was too dim to allow for reading, so Darrell flicked in her bedside lamp and flipped through the book. Only the first couple of pages had been filled, but the brevity of her notes didn't make for any easier reading.

I killed Conrad Kennedy.

Looking at the words, Darrell realised that though she no longer felt sleepy, she was still incredibly tired. But it was her birthday, and every fourteen-year-old should be able to enjoy a birthday. Tomorrow she would be heading back to the place she thought of as her second home, Eagle Glen Alternate School. A place peopled with eccentric and extraordinary teachers and attended by her two best friends in the world. She should be happy, excited, filled with anticipation.

Instead she found herself suffocating under an emotion she thought she'd put behind her forever.


Darrell grabbed her pen.

I may have killed him, she wrote, but I should NOT have been the one in charge of keeping him safe.


Shades of Red is the final instalment in the Glen Eagle trilogy, an exciting contemporary series set on the West Coast near Vancouver. KC Dyer has created a time fantasy that revolves around the mysterious alternate school of Glen Eden where Darrell and her two friends, Kate and Brodie, discover a portal though time characterized by unusual petroglyphs of a tree in a hidden passage in the library.

     In Darrell, Dyer has created a likeable and believable protagonist who, through her developing relationship with her friends, has come to grips with the painful loss of her father some three years earlier. Her prosthetic foot is a constant reminder of their horrific motorcycle crash and her loss. Readers will sympathize with Darrell and understand why she has created a wall of anger around herself and will come to realize that the crazy antics of Kate and Brodie are helping to tear down this wall and make her a much more likeable person.

     Dyer has cleverly intertwined the students’ history lessons with time travel. On this occasion, the three friends and an unwitting passenger travel back to the period of the Protestant Reformation in England. Dyer manages to deliver a history class with a fresh voice as the readers feel themselves drawn through the time portal with the characters as assume personas of that era. The reader will experience life as a teenager in England with Darrell as she learns to walk on a peg leg that has a hinged wooden foot and cope with itchy woolen clothes. Darrel’s friends, who tower over the local inhabitants, assume the roles of her servants. Contemporary issues of racism and discrimination are shown to be ages old as Darrell is pulled back in time to the Court of King Henry VIII where priests risked their lives to give safe passage to Jews in the spiraling waves of brutal cleansing performed by the church.

     When back in the 21st century, Dyer includes familiar realities to help make this story more relevant to the reader. These include the fact that Darrell's mother is away in a war-torn country working with Doctors Without Boarders. The burgeoning relationship her mother has with a peer proves difficult for Darrell to accept as she continues to miss her father, a situation that may ring true with young teens today. As the story progresses and Darrell realises what she has always known, that you cannot change the past, the reader will be pleased that she has come to accept her father’s death.

     I thoroughly enjoyed Shades of Red and promptly went to my favourite local bookstore to purchase the first book in the series, Seeds of Time. I wasn't disappointed; Dyer has crafted a clever, fast moving premise to this historical time fantasy series that will appeal to young teens and their history teachers! I am now eagerly waiting to start Secret of Light, the second title in the series.

Highly Recommended.

This summer, Libby McKeever, a Library Assistant at Whistler Secondary and a Library Technician student, will be walking down by Howe Sound on the lookout for interesting petroglyphs.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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