Welcome to the inaugural stop on the Seven Prequels Blog Tour! I’m so honoured to kick off this series once again, especially since I have the pleasure of N0rah McClintock’s novel, Slide, to discuss. My thanks to the wonderful people at Orca Books who so very kindly invited me to participate not once but twice on this tour (look for me at the end as I highlight Sigmund Brouwer’s “Barracuda”).
For those of you who might be wondering about the series, the Seven Prequels brings the original seven authors back together to write about their characters, but this time with a twist. Instead of the boys heading out on another grandfather-inspired adventure, it’s all about what happened before they first encountered each other for that mysterious reading of the will.
When Rennie’s dad, the Major, goes overseas on assignment, he enlists his mother-in-law to babysit Rennie. Babysit! A guy who’s about to turn fifteen! But Grandma is no surrogate drill sergeant. She has fun on her mind. That means ditching school and heading to avalanche country for a surprise ski trip. Nothing can ruin Rennie’s vacation, not the lodge owner, who turns out to be Grandma’s geriatric long-ago boyfriend, not the annoying backcountry guide or the crooked park ranger or the pushy businessman from Mumbai, not even the explosions. And definitely not the most beautiful girl in the world, whom he meets while stumbling onto a murder plot.
In Slide, McClintock reintroduces us to Rennie, this time a mere nineteen months after the loss of his mother. Life with the Major is awkward and difficult, and Rennie is starting to rebel against the strict discipline of his father. Fortunately, the Major is called away on business and Rennie’s Grandma is called in to stay with him. That lasts about ten minutes, however, and Rennie and his Grandma are quickly heading out for their own adventure on the ski slopes of the Sierra Nevada range, in the middle of avalanche country.
Let me say how much I loved Grandma Melanie. Not only is she a free spirit, full of sass and determination, but it’s clear how much she loves her grandson and how determined she is to provide him with good memories, especially after the loss of his mother and her daughter. McClintock is able to show us how much the two of them love and respect each other, not by showy gestures but by simple actions that telegraph how well they know each other. Fourteen-year-old Rennie can make his Grandma’s favourite tea (Earl Grey, with lemon only) without her prompting, while a broken ankle won’t deter Grandma Melanie from encouraging Rennie to spend his days skiing and exploring. While I can see a lot of future Rennie in his Grandma, the extra information provided about Rennie’s feelings and knowledge of his mother’s untimely death also help to fill in some of the gaps in his history.
It wouldn’t be a McClintock story without mystery, and this one is built up on clever hints and clues. Between avalanches and murder plots, there is adventure aplenty, and the pacing remains quick and constant throughout. There are enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing, including a cast of characters that number a pushy uncle from Mumbai, a dodgy park ranger, a beautiful pre-med staff member named Annie, and her somewhat creepy boyfriend. Even David McLean makes a rather mysterious cameo at one point – savvy readers will know where and when it happens! Rennie’s forethought and attention to detail are well in hand here, and help him to solve the mystery as things come to a head.
Fast paced and engaging, Slide is the perfect introduction to Rennie for those who haven’t started the series (and those younger readers who may only just be getting into them), and an awesome return to a fan favourite for dedicated fans.
Norah McClintock writes mystery and crime fiction for young adult readers. She is the author of the Chloe & Levesque, Mike & Riel, Robyn Hunter, and Ryan Dooley series, as well as many stand-alone novels. Norah grew up in Montreal, Quebec, is a graduate of McGill University (in history, of all things) and lives in Toronto, Ontario. She is a five-time winner of the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile Crime Novel. Her novels have been translated into sixteen languages. To find out more about Norah, visit her website atwww.norahmcclintock.com. Norah’s novels in the Seven series include Close to the Heel, From the Dead and Slide.
Slide and the other books in the Seven Prequels are available from Orca Books, and can be read in any order. Individual books and boxed sets are available for purchase from your favourite online, independent and chain booksellers. ISBN: 9781459811676