• Title: The Other Side of the Whale Road
  • Author: K.A. Hayton
  • Publisher: Eye and Lightning on August 1, 2021
  • Genre: YA Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 240
  • Formats Available: Paperback, & Digital
  • Rating: 5/5

Trigger Warnings: Bullying, Graphic Violence, Child Neglect, Alcoholism

Many thanks to K.A. Hayton and Lightning Books for providing me with a digital copy of The Other Side of the Whale Road with a request for an honest review. Also, thanks to The Write Reads Tours for inviting me on this tour and providing the materials for this post.

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About The Other Side of the Whale Road



‘The Vikings are better armed than we are. They have long, heavy axes that can take a man’s head from his shoulder. I know this because I see it happen.’ When his mum burns down their house on the Whitehorse estate, sixteen-year-old Joss is sent to live in a sleepy Suffolk village.

The place is steeped in history, as Joss learns when a bike accident pitches him back more than 1,000 years to an Anglo-Saxon village. That history also tells him his new friends are in mortal peril from bloodthirsty invaders. Can he warn their ruler, King Edmund, in time?

And will he ever get home?

Provided by The Write Reads Tours for Tour Use

My Review

The Other Side of the Whale Road turns every page into magic. K.A. Hayton tells a story that has so many repercussions for many different people. It is like a trickle-down effect where one person makes a mistake that filters down until the cycle ends. But, this novel does that and much more with the fantasy element included.

Joss is on his way to a foster home after his mom, Tracy burns down the house while drunk. Joss’s twin sisters get to stay with their mom in a controlled situation. But Joss goes to the countryside for his foster experience. Hoxne is like no place Joss has ever seen. The quiet village doesn’t even get cell phone reception. And, Joss doesn’t fit in at school. After a particularly bad day, Joss goes for a bike ride to let off steam when he finds himself in the Dark Ages. The people he meets and his experiences are bizarre, but he finds a home there. The trouble is, will his time in the past allow him to function in the future?

Joss’s character unnerved me. I simultaneously loved and hated him. Then, I felt guilty for being angry at Joss’s actions because his life has been such crap. Joss’s behavior makes sense because he has a lot of bottled-up anger toward his mom and his situation in life. I wanted to shake Joss out of his resentful feelings. People tried to help Joss in so many ways, yet he wasn’t the least receptive to their caring. The strange thing is that Joss didn’t carry these feelings into the past. When he was in the past, Joss included himself in the day-to-day activities of the town. He made friends easily and trusted those around him. Joss was a different kid when in the Dark Ages.

I enjoyed the happenings when Joss was in the past. His friends loved him, even though he was not from their land. Joss’s strange mannerisms confused and delighted most of the people in the village. I found it charming that Joss found himself able to fit in with the village life. Joss found comfort in the awful smells, the barbarian ways of the village elite, and the endless work. He felt at home. Unfortunately, readers know that he has to come back to the present. Trying to reacclimate to modern-day life  caused more resentment.

But, in the end, I decided that I loved Joss. I still didn’t care for his manners and disdain for everyone. But he has a good heart full of love for his sisters and new friends. The end of this novel satisfied my need for closure, and my pride in getting to read Joss’s story made me feel alive.

I award The Other Side of the Whale Road a full 5 out of 5 stars. Readers get the downtrodden foster kid theme alongside a feel-good journey to the past. I’ve never seen this done before, and K.A. Hayton did it so well. If you get the chance to read this book, I encourage you to pick it up. It was a fast read at only 230 pages, but there is a lot of content spread through its pages so, it felt much longer.

About the Author – K.A. Hayton

K.A. HAYTON was born in Lincolnshire and read English at Sheffield University. She lives in Suffolk with her husband and has two daughters. The idea for The Other Side of the Whale Road came from her study of old English poetry at university, and from living in a place where Anglo-Saxon history feels very close.

Author Contact Links: Twitter

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