Published by Harper Collins –

Ned’s father is protective, overly cautious, never takes a risk and his hobby is spending time with his son, making things together, oh, and television quiz shows.

Ned, however, is beginning to think that making things with your dad was ok, when he was younger, but he is now starting to believe that this isn’t a cool thing to be doing for someone who is coming up to their 13th birthday.

As for Ned? He is the ultimate in unremarkable. His results at school are always the same, teachers hardly realise he’s there, and he has only recently made two friends. Up to now the only friend he has had, is a mouse that he saved from a trap, who he has named Whiskers.

The day before his birthday, is also the last day of term and Ned returns home after texting his dad to let him know he would be there in the next few minutes and is greeted by his Dad telling him he was beginning to get worried…again

Then Ned realises that his dad is behaving more strangely than usual (even for him), especially when not only does he present his son with a tiny gift, but tells him not to open it ’till he reaches the circus – his father, his father who is so nervous about everything is going to take Ned to the circus… He then informs Ned that he will take him to the circus as soon as he returns…and before Ned can ask him what is going on, he bangs out of the door.

Hours later Ted hears a scraping noise at the back door, and hoping its his dad, Ned goes down to see something lit up by the security lights –

‘It was a clown, though nothing like the ones he’d seen in books or on the telly. He had the same shrunken hat, oversized boots and orange curly hair one would expect, but he was caked indirt. His make-up had cracked, like white clay left too long in the sun, and the few teeth he still had were gnarled black stumps.

The horrible scraping sound began again as the clown dragged a claw-like nail across the glass…’

It is then that Ned’s dad returns and this story spirals into a tale of darkness and adventure coloured by characters usually connected with the wilder and more curious side of circus life…

This is a brilliant read. I particularly like the characters of Whiskers and George, but to find out about them, you will need to read the book…