Thirteen year old Billy, a sensitive boy, just cannot cope with seeing his mother whom he loves deeply, in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Jeff with whom they live. So with a few things in his backpack and doing his best not to be seen, he creeps out one night.
He makes for All Souls’ graveyard and the following morning he encounters an old man who wants to know what he’s doing there. Billy begs him not to tell anyone and the man strikes a deal with him: assistance with his clearing work in the overgrown graveyard for a few days in return for keeping quiet about the lad’s whereabouts.
The man turns out to be kind and thoughtful, which surprises the boy.
Meanwhile Grace (Billy’s mum) has discovered her son is missing and the story alternates between events relating to her and the home, and Billy (Different fonts are used for each). Grace decides she needs to ask for help outside and starts with her close neighbour and before long the police are also involved.
Billy meanwhile does not remain undiscovered: Izzie from his maths class finds him while she’s waiting for her mum.
The story offers the stark contrast between the harshness of Billy’s life with the supernatural happenings of All Souls’ Eve while at the same time weaving a thread of abiding love and hope through them both.
As the drama moves close to the night of All Souls’ Eve, a sequence of ten textured, powerfully atmospheric double spread illustrations replace the text
and thereafter, for a few pages, the words, set on grey paper take on a ghostly white appearance.
There’s another stark contrast too: that of the gentle, thoughtful and caring old man with Jeff whose toxic, controlling and abusive personality has driven Billy to run away.
For older readers through to adults, with its themes of domestic abuse, families, childhood, separation and reunion, this important book, recounts with enormous sensitivity and power a story that will haunt the reader long after the beautifully produced book has been set aside.