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Front cover

Last year, during my schools tour for Haunted, I was lucky enough to be invited into Keswick School in Cumbria. After performing my Gothic Masterclass I was invited by Mrs Robinson to take a tour of the school library. Straight away I could tell that the students of Keswick were a creative bunch for the walls and bookcases were teeming with sculptures and other pieces of art depicting favourite literary characters.

While chatting to Mrs Robinson, I discovered that there was a very active writing group within the school (see their website here) and that they had been collaborating on a real book! Mrs Robinson gave me a rough copy of this magnificent tome and it accompanied me from Scotland to Bristol during the tour.

The essential idea for the story is depictions of history and historical characters, some famous some not, which are seen through the character of ‘The Book’ itself: a wonderful and innovative conceit. The more I read the more I became engrossed in this brilliant act of collective storytelling and, returning home, fired off an email to praise to Mrs Robinson and her students. A little time later I heard that the group were hoping to publish THE READER properly, and I gave a few tips to get them started.

Well, I’m delighted to share the news that the book has indeed been published! Fellow writer Jim Eldridge commented on the finished product saying ‘This pooling of talents creates a book that is a sheer delight to read’ while my own words of praise can be found on the back cover.

Below, I’m printing the prologue to this very clever book, but before I do I’m very pleased to say you can buy the book from Mrs Robinson for the bargain price of £3.99! You will also get a free bookmark – what a bargain! Please, if you support young writers and want a thought-provoking, engrossing read, do drop Mrs Robinson a line at helenrobinson@keswick.cumbria.sch.uk

Click below to continue reading… THE READER!

THE READER is written under the pseudonym K.S. Aitken, but I feel it’s important to name these promising scribes publicly. They are: Helen Robinson, Isabella Hankin, Christine Smith, Heather Matthews, Amy Lord, Holly Adams, Georgia Howsen, Amy Fell, Ruth Jennings, Emily Dunn, Anisya Morrison, Samuel Hignett, Kristen Henderson, Ashia Cannon, Bryony Sleath, Andalucía Armstrong-Squires and Jenny Dunn.

But enough blabber from me. Here’s the promised prologue… Enjoy!

The Reader


The book was watching.  Always watching.  Always waiting.  Waiting for the next reader.  Always longing to be like the readers who read it.  Wanting to be human.  It wanted happiness and love. It wanted anger and hate.  It wanted to be human.    No matter what.

The book did not remember when it began to think, or when it began to feel.  But at some time, as readers flicked through its yellowed pages, it began to sense something from them; little flashes of emotion that stirred it into consciousness.  Its words began to move, the letters shook, the pages turned.

Time meant nothing to the book.  It did not remember the moment of its conception or of its creation.  Nor did it know what it had been created for.  Its readers never seemed to learn anything from it.  The book had watched them for centuries, the humans, making all their mistakes; destroying their own kind in the name of wealth, power, ambition and religion.  It had seen the same thing over and over again but they never learned.  As time went on and the princes and paupers of the past turned to dust and faded from memory, new ones arose from their ashes like phoenixes to repeat the cycle over and over again. The book grew tired of its helpless observations.  There was nothing it could do.  As a book it had no power to help change things.


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