This electric debut will mesmerise you
The Lightning Catcher by Clare Weze, Bloomsbury
The Lightning Catcher is one of the most exciting books I’ve read, and it kept me guessing all the way to the end. It’s incredibly imaginative AND informative. It had me googling many of the concepts that it introduced, and I was surprised to discover they were real! I now know far more about science and nature than I did a few days ago.
When Alfie moves to Folding Ford, he struggles with unexplained phenomena as well as being a conspicuous newcomer. Alfie is mixed race and only one other person in his new village has the same colour skin as him. The head of the local council takes an instant dislike to Alfie which seems to be racially motivated. As Alfie attempts to investigate the strange and destructive events taking place around him, he ends up being blamed for them. When disaster strikes and Alfie tries to help, it backfires and the whole village turns against him. Can Alfie solve the problems in Folding Ford and clear his name too?
Alfie is a brilliant character whose loyalty, courage, compassion and determination can get him into trouble at times, but ultimately redeem him and those around him. He sees the good in every person and every creature, and is willing to overlook negative preconceptions. When Alfie’s best friend lets him down, Alfie never betrays him, even though it would be in Alfie's best interests to do so.
I love Alfie’s older sister Lily and how she comes through for Alfie when he needs her, despite battling difficult demons of her own. I don’t want to say too much about the mysterious Whizzy in case I give anything away, but… Whizzy is one of the most fascinating fictional creations I’ve ever encountered.
This was my first book by Clare Weze, and it’s her children’s debut, but I’m going to have to get hold of more of her work. Clare writes beautifully and describes complicated structures and theories with remarkable clarity. Her powerful prose fizzes and sparkles just like the enigmatic Whizzy, and the scenes in which Whizzy appears are simply breathtaking. It’s amazing how Clare can generate such vivid images using words alone.
The Lightning Catcher is ideal for readers who love solving mysteries, learning more about their surroundings, and exploring wild scientific theories. It's extremely funny, enormously compelling, and as magnetic and electrifying as the marvellous events it describes.
About the author:
Clare Weze (pronounced "way-zay") grew up in London and Yorkshire and has British and Nigerian heritage. She writes for both adults and children and has always written around her day job, starting out as a hairdresser in London’s West End. Clare then moved on to complete a science degree and postgraduate studies, then work in the fields of biomedical and environmental research. Books had a huge effect on Clare as a child, and her aim is to recreate that sense of discovery in her readers. Writing for children allows her to take her ideas to their ultimate, wildest conclusions. Clare's short fiction for adults can be found in Aesthetica, Ad Hoc Fiction, Bare Fiction, Best Microfiction 2019, Bridge House, The Conglomerate, Commonword, The Lascaux Review, Reflex Fiction, Riptide, Short Fiction Journal, Wonderbox and elsewhere. In 2016, Clare won a Northern Writers’ Award.
A huge thank you to the lovely people in Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book in advance of its publication – all opinions expressed are my own.
Isn't the cover (by Irish artist Paddy Donnelly) fabulous? We love Paddy's work and have reviewed two of his picture books, The Vanishing Lake which he also wrote, and Here Be Dragons by Susannah Lloyd, on our sister site, Picture Book Snob.