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Hugh T McCracken

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Member Since: Mar, 2003

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· To Read the Bones

· Masters of the Hunt

· Heads up for Harry

· Shaken & Stirred

· The Tangled Skein (Alistair Kinnon)

· The Knotted Cord (Alistair Kinnon)

· Return from the Hunt

· Grandfather & The Ghost

· Ring of Stone

· The Time Drum

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Books by Hugh T McCracken


Young Adult/Teen

Publisher:  Bewrite Books, UK ISBN-10:  1904224555 Type:  Fiction


Copyright:  Jul 1 2002

Barnes &
BeWrite Books

Five schoolboy pals, on a dare, after dark sneak into a wood supposed to be haunted. The wood changes and they find themselves in an earlier, more savage, Scotland fighting for their very survival.

A group of modern-day schoolboys is thrown back through a time portal to thirteenth century Scotland where they become the quarry in the Lord of the Island’s ritual hunt to the death. Can they survive a year until when they think the portal will reopen and allow them to escape to their own time?Pete and his pals hardly know who's friend and who's foe as they struggle their way through this strange and theartening medieval world of castles and torture chambers ... literally running for their lives at every turn.

We ran. The gorse, bramble, and thorn of the brush caught at us, snagging our clothes, but we ran. Where was our wood of tidy, well-kept gravel paths, of civilised shrubbery, of park benches?

We stopped gasping for breath. At another shriek, we ran again. When I skidded to a stop, everyone else crashed into me.

Professional Reviews
Review by John Grant (Paul Burnett) in
Rules of the Hunt
by Hugh McCracken
(BeWrite, 232 pages, paperback; 2002. ISBN 1-904224-55-5)
Five young boys on a small Scottish island are exploring a grove that has the reputation of being haunted for twenty-four hours each year; during this single noon-to-noon period, people often disappear. Sure enough, the five are suddenly timeslipped back several centuries — to a time when the local Duke has the winsome habit of conducting an equivalent of the Wild Hunt on that one day each year. There has been puzzlement that quite often strangers in weird garb turn up during the Hunt, but none of them has ever survived it. The boys immediately encounter the Duke and his huntsmen, but are granted their lives until next year's Hunt — although not before one of them is accidentally killed.
During the twelvemonth the four — Pete (the narrator, an American staying with relatives on the island while his parents divorce), Davey (his cousin), Keith (a working-class lad subjected to physical abuse at home) and Mike (the natural leader) — integrate themselves with the locals, in particular being befriended by Andrew, a cousin of the Duke's and also leader of the Old Ones, a society that offers a sort of Gandhi-like passive resistance to the Duke's rule. The four boys come to be widely regarded as warlocks, and indeed Pete starts displaying some supernatural powers — dreaming prophetic dreams and establishing telepathic contact with the Duke, who proves to be his distant ancestor. Even so, Keith is seized and tortured on the rack; by the time he can be rescued it is evident he will never walk properly again. And ever the day of the next Hunt draws nearer, and with it the enigma of whether the boys will ever be able to get back to their own time...
Timeslip novels for young adults are not exactly thin on the ground at the moment, but Rules of the Hunt is certainly among the most interesting of them that this reviewer has encountered — and the most readable. The action, after a slightly slow start, fairly cracks along, to the point that once or twice one wishes it would crack along a bit less enthusiastically, because a couple of plot developments go by so fast that they almost ring of perfunctoriness. The setting, fascinating in itself, is very nicely realized; it has the feel of a fantasyland while at the same time being firmly rooted in a historical reality. The characters likewise come alive, although the boy Keith takes a while to do so.
What is additionally refreshing about this novel is that it is genuinely for adolescents rather than, as is too often the case with young adult novels, being over-sanitized. The killing, early on, of the boy Colin, whom one had assumed was going to be one of the protagonists — one of "our merry gang" — hammers it home that this isn't going to merely the customary romp in which all dangers are survived without much damage to life or limb; and this tenor is maintained by such events as the torturing of the boy Keith. Keith's catchphrase is "No funny stuff", referring to his only semi-joking fear of homosexual advances, the implication being strong that it's not just beatings he's suffered at home from his father and elder brothers. Pete is going through that phase of adolescence when erections pop up at all sorts of unexpected moments, and his embarrassment about this is treated with charming honesty rather than the whole matter being ignored entirely. None of this is matter from which children should be shielded — to the contrary, it contributes to their healthy development — but most writers (and, much more importantly, most children's editors) would blench at the prospect of some bible-blinded parent in Texas taking exception and would censor reality accordingly.
This is a very nicely produced book from a new publisher; it's a handsome trade paperback, with a nice cover by Alan Geldard.
All the best children's and young adult novels hold many riches for adults, and this is one of them. Rules of the Hunt had me gripped; even if one ignored its various subtexts, therefore, it deserves recommendation.
Review by John Grant (Paul Burnett) in

Review by Ruth Pope
Rules of the Hunt

This book follows the adventures of a group of kids who travel backwards in time - and have to cope with the baddies and the goodies! This is a fantastic book, which not only presents historical fact in a way which doesn't feel like learning but is also totally absorbing. It's absolutely fascinating.
The next book please!

Review by Ruth Pope

Anon in
Great fun -- and not just for kids, February 5, 2003
A group of boys on a Scottish island accidentally slip back in time to an age when the local lord conducts a Wild Hunt, with human prey, once a year. The boys, soon recognized as ‘strangers’, must use their wits just to survive ... and, beyond that, to save the locals from this tyranny.
The tale is told at a cracking pace, and it's a great adventure story. But it's more impressive than that. McCracken has the knack of portraying children the way they really are, not the way that doting adults would like to think sweet little kiddiewinkies are; this realism is refreshing. Also, he's doesn't flinch from some of the ghastlier consequences of his plot: for example, one of the boys is killed and another suffers torture. Because of this darker side to the book, the sense of involvement is hugely increased: the threats aren't just Tom & Jerry stuff but very real — something that will be hugely appreciated by young-adult readers, who get tired of being shielded by well meaning adults from the unpleasant truths of life they can see in the newspapers.
But don't get the impression the book's just for young adults. At the grand old age of, er, fiftysomething I sat up late devouring it. Grand stuff!
Reviewer: A reader from Hewitt, New Jersey, USA. Unfortunately, anonymous, appeared on the site.

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Rules of the Hunt by Hugh McCracken

Five schoolboy pals, on a dare, after dark sneak into a wood supposed to be haunted. The wood changes and they find themselves in an earlier, more savage, Scotland fighting for the..  
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