It is some time since I have devoured a book, cover to cover, in one session. Hollow Earth, written by John and Carole Barrowman may be aimed at the teenage fiction market but it is a fast paced intertwining of events from the Dark Ages through to the modern day. I have just had an opportunity to read a pre-release copy and, even though my teenage years were back in the 60’s, I found it a brilliant read, especially of course since it uses the Island of Great Cumbrae as its main centre of the action.
The story follows the adventures of twelve year old twins Matt and Emily who have the power to bring drawings to life and, in the book, they make use of this power in fighting against the villains. Much of the story is based on the Island of Auchinmurn just off a seaside town called Largs and two ferries cross over to the island every half hour – recognise the location. Just in case you haven’t got it yet, the map in the introduction will be instantly recognised as Great Cumbrae, there is even a Lion Rock (which has mysteriously moved to the west side of the island). Just to the south of Auchinmurm Island is a smaller island called Era Mina. Many other local features form part of the story, including the Haylie Brae, the Pencil, and even swarms of pink jellyfish. A Viking raid on the ancient settlement on the island forms part of the story which links history to the modern day and, as with most of the book, keeps the reader on edge and hungry for the next page.
The key location on the Island of Auchinmurn is the Abbey which is owned by Emily & Matt’s grandfather and the book ends with some unanswered questions, leaving it open for Hollow Earth to become a series.
As a book for teenagers it introduces the young reader to works of art by painters such as VanGogh and Brughel and to characters from Mythology such as the Peryton (winged white stag) and Caldrius (a bird that can see into the future). For the Island of Cumbrae though, it can do much more through introducing the island to another generation and placing it firmly in their minds, and those of the parents, as a place to be added to the ‘must visit’ list. The launch of Hollow Earth from the start of February is perfectly timed in respect of widening the marketing of Cumbrae/Millport and a feature on the book will shortly be added to the www.millport.org web site in exchange for a link (already in place) from the Hollow Earth site. I am currently working on a revised Millport.org site will also be launched in February sometime and on a new e-brochure, both of which will now incorporate this unique promotional opportunity to feature the island from a different perspective.
Hollow Earth web site is at http://www.hollow-earth.co.uk