Welcome to the world of Bodrach Nuwl ...
"Far off at the western edge of the world, where the green land meets the grey ocean and the wind never falters, Bodrach Nuwl, the Old Man of the Mist, rises a thousand feet above the sea. At his head the wind perpetually thunders, whipping the thin grasses and stunting the trees that lean and cling grimly with their ancient roots. He is so gigantic that each ledge and crinkle in his face is a little world in itself. On green, wind-blasted lawns the size of football pitches, whole populations of rabbits and foxes lead their lives perched in the air with no inkling of the outside world. Small crevices become great chasms, lined with trees growing from the rock itself, fed by ferny waterfalls and inhabited by finches and great dragonflies. Habitats here have no connection with the world at large. There are species of insect that exist nowhere else, and unknown pale orchids that thrive in cracks and crannies. Great caves loom open that from the sea must seem like the holes of sand-martins but in reality could swallow a small village and are inhabited by bats and blind snakes.
Behind the cliffs huddles a dismal little town. In the town is a church, and in the church are some pews. And under one of the pews is a boy, hiding from the Vicar."
Thus begins The Black Joke, which has been described as a cross between Treasure Island, The Railway Children and Deliverance. It is by turns exciting, amusing, charming, alarming, winsome, violent and strange - a rollicking read for adults with a childish love of adventure, and for children who aren't afraid of a few long words.
There's a skeleton in the tunnel, a pair of loathsome bullies in the classroom, a mysterious ship in the harbour and vague rumours about missing treasure. But ... pirates? Oh, come on, surely not. That would be ridiculous. You don't get pirates any more ... do you?
You will meet ...
the fearsome Urethra Grubb, the worst woman in the world ...
the emphatic Rosella Prettyfoot, who wears big boots and knows how to use them ...
the sinister Trinity Teague, who disappeared and has now come back ...
the odorous Billy Moon, and his mother Primrose who's no better than she should be ...
and the slightly bewildered Pertinacious Potts and his annoying sister Fenestra, who have to make sense of it all and know that no good will come of it. Probably.
Reviews of The Black Joke
"... an extremely well written book with three dimensional characters that you quickly grow to love or hate. It is hard to put the book into any category as it is set in an imaginary West Coast village at the end of the nineteenth century but has a cast of characters that include a crew of pirates from a century earlier and has a plot involving secret passages, treasure and characters that could have come from Dickens, Dylan Thomas or Mervyn Peake. It also manages to be a book for adults or older teenagers as any one who appreciates good writing will love it. The book ends with many trailing loose ends and a sequel must be on the way. I hope so because I want to spend more time in this village and see what happens to the cast of characters. Highly recommended ..."
"I was looking for an entertaining read for the Christmas break and a friend recommended this book to me. It didn't disappoint. With an elegant and easy to read prose style, the author takes you on a rollickingly journey full of wonderfully fleshed out characters. The children are likeable for their naive but determined approach to the challenges they face and some of the adults are all the more likeable for their grotesqueness. I found the book by turns funny, sad, exciting and shocking. I agree with 'Sheddweller' that a sequel must be on the way and I can't wait to read it. Suitable for teens to the more mature reader, I would heartily recommend this book."
"A good book, for me, requires a few simple necessities. It must be interesting. It must hold one's attention. The characters must be so real one can become part of their world whilst reading. Feel with them. Hope with them. Sympathise with them. Be elated, worried and crushed with them. Fervently wish all will be right in the end and must at all costs carry on reading in the hope the characters will live to see a sequel! The Black Joke has all these qualities. I loved it!
From the moment reading commenced I needed to know the next twist. I lived with the characters, craved to know what was going to happen next. Would all be right in the end?
This is not a short book and not one which can be seen off in a couple of hours but it absolutely demands once you have put it down one must get back to it as soon as humanly possible. The setting is dramatic. The characters are alive and their names wonderfully descriptive. The story is exciting and moves well. The complete book was absolutely captivating.
One thing I've just got to say though. For heaven's sake David Bramhall, please have a sequel out soon, there are loose ends to clear up ... can't wait ... must know what happened next ..." - Myles Bevis
"A great read - loved the suspense - a real page turner - couldn't put it down ... looking forward to next!"
You can buy The Black Joke in paperback on Amazon.co.uk in the UK, or on Amazon.com in the US, or on any other European version of Amazon.
If you prefer to use a digital reader, go to Smashwords where you will find it in a variety of formats - EPUB, MOBI for Kindle, LRF for Sony e-readers, PDB for Palm readers, as well as TXT, RTF, PDF and HTML for laptop or PC - and all COMPLETELY FREE!