Crown of Thorns set within the gritty history of Newcastle’s underbelly is a story set within the early years of the noughties. A group of curious and streetwise teenage friend’s hunger for more than their desperate circumstances, an appetite fed by a callous and manipulative businessman. From seemingly innocent forays into crime, the group find themselves delving into a world from which they may never be able to escape.
Set within this premise, the characters of Crown of Thorns blossom and are layered with just enough tidbits peppered in the initial stages to leave you curious enough for more. The sense of desperation felt by the group of youngsters flies off the pages along with an unapologetic acceptance of their circumstances. As the reader you keenly feel the dichotomy of emotion and wishing the characters safe passage through their challenges.
From the quiet intelligence of group’s teenager leader Johnny Wilson, the restrained violence of businessman Salim Ghutu to the quiet persistence policeman of Frank Gilbert. Characters become easily immersed within the imagination and you almost wish for an alternative fate to befall them, particularly in the case of the vulnerable Susie Blakemore, whom you want to rescue from the pages. The city of Newcastle, is also well represented and you can almost feel the grittiness of the wind and rain as it joins the story
Crown of Thorns is not only a well written and gritty story it also highlights the social issues prevalent in 1991 and today; the deprivation of austerity and the vulnerability of children left to survive in the best way they know how. Reminiscent of the work of writer Shane Meadows, I read this book in one sitting and I await a follow-up from John T Young with interest. Delve into Crown of Thorns and prepare to be bitten – in the best way.
John T Young will be interviewed on K107FM by Lisa May Young on Tuesday, 27thAugust 2019
Crown of Thorns is available on Kindle and Paperback here