Extraterrestrials, zombies, Green Men…why not?

I apologize in advance for my own ignorance, but when I saw this symbol, my immediate reaction was, “Oooo, this book is likely going to be about zombies and/or radioactive mutant thingies and will involve characters being chased by mysterious figures in hazmat suits who will probably want blood samples from them”. But, when I showed it to my brother he was like, “It looks like this book will be about flowers.” How cute. Actually, that symbol is not a biohazardous materials warning (though blood samples are taken at some point) but a triskellion, a really really old symbol, which was even creepier looking in the past when it looked more like a bouquet of bodiless legs windmilling around (wouldn’t it be awkward to have three legs like that, though?).

Oh, look at that poor mutant child with the Triskelion legs..
Oh, look at that poor mutant child with the Triskelion legs..

Triskellion by Will Peterson is a story focussed around the mystery of this symbol and the history behind all those symbols carved and painted in a small English village called…Triskellion. It involves two American children having to spend a boring summer (why would they ever think that???) in a boring old village full of elderly people in snore-worthy England. Here is where I rub my hands in glee and start speculating on all the dark secrets the sleepy village is probably hiding. Triskellion is the last stop on the train, and the phones don’t work, and noone’s at the train station to greet them, and in fact, everything is closed or people keep flipping those open/closed signs over to closed when they try to buy candy or drinks and also, Adam, the boy twin, gets punched in the face as a friendly welcome by two grubby wannabe teen gangsters. Lots of things happen in this book, as it is relentlessly fast paced, and Will Peterson dances around concrete answers making me feel foolish and uncertain.

Rachel and Adam have to stay with their grandmother who is a poor cook and nods off while the children go hungry having to make do with canned sardines and bread. But grandmother gets put through lots of stress when her grandchildren mix with another kid of questionable background and motives who convinces them to do lots of strange questionable things unapologetically. And there is not much questioning from the twins! At least, not really. And Rachel and Adam are supposed to be New Yorkers. Are there such creatures as New Yorkers that aren’t street smart? Even the funny old beekeeper man manages to pull off a few tricks or two on the innocent young’uns. Bees are important in this book, as they do a lot of angry buzzing at people and funny bee dances and contribute many bee stings to the plot (in case you’re wondering why there are bees on the front cover). There’s also lots of helpless hand wringing from the old folks while the young folks do reckless things like go hunting at night or go into old spooky forests and disturb the mean crows or try to convince village folk of crazy notions.

Since the story is a sort of an archeological survey at the same time as it is a thriller, unearthing old mummified things and finding lost objects of great significance are part and parcel of the plot and a well-qualified Australian lady informs Rachel, Adam and the reader all the interesting historical tidbits about the village of Triskellion. Even so, by the end of the book, I was left….confused, and wondering if extraterrestrials are involved.  Here is one of the rare cases where I really really wish the author would just come right out and give me the answers I want instead of heaping on all those blasted hints. I’m no good as a mystery reader, I want to know the end, and have the problem wrapped up nicely and perhaps have the villain arrested and put in the dungeon. Which is why I like Sherlock Holmes, he usually can be counted on to do this with much confidence and usually makes me (and Watson) feel alls righted. But then again, it is equally likely that I am being terribly dense and was not able to solve the puzzle along with Rachel and Adam (which, is much more probable, considering the state of affairs up there where the brain’s supposed to be). There are two other books after this one though….

Rachel is rather a crybaby, however she seems more willing to do crazy unreasonable things compared to Adam, who is more cautious but less fun. Gabriel is altogether a little too annoyingly knowing, and I wish people would stop calling him an “undesirable” and shooing him away (which the old people seem to do verbatim). Despite these character qualms the story was rather entertaining, and it was nice to lie on the grassy field reading it whilst occasionally staring brainlessly at the clouds overhead.

Overall, I read this book quicker than I could think about the plot, however still managed to enjoy it (albeit being terribly annoyed at myself for not being able to solve the mystery). I’m now Wikipedia-ing and reading other people’s reviews and so far, no luck. I seem to be the only one who is confused about the outcome of the story, as I’ve yet to find a review/discussion of this book where the problem in question is directly addressed. If you’ve read this book, would you mind putting me out of this misery and telling me what exactly was “the word that would describe finally what [Rachel and Adam] had clumsily pieced together” was exactly??

Rating: 4 Green Men who need to get with the program

Excerpt:

Once again, Rachel heard the low hum of bees buzzing. She watched as the flowers appeared to come to life, and she smiled as, one by one, an army of insects emerged from the trumpets of the foxgloves, their back legs heavy with pollen, and flew, snaking off against the dark sky to their hive.

“It’s not even eight o’clock, and it’s black as night out there,” Rachel said. “Adam…”

She got no more than a groan from her brother, who was flat out on one of the twin beds, half-asleep already.

Thunder erupted above her head, and she winced at the sound of it, smelling electricity all around and feeling the hairs stand up along her arms. A few seconds later, lightning broke across the moorland beyond the garden, and in its bright snapshot she saw a familiar circular shape, and something moving around in it.

She moved close to the window, pressed her face to the glass, and waited.

It was as though the next flash lasted five or ten seconds, since this time she saw the shape clearly. It was the same shape she and Adam had seen everywhere that day: a symbol of three intersecting crescents forming a continuous, pointed clover leaf, bound by a large circle. But this time it was huge and cut out from the chalk on the land itself; white against the scrubby gray of the moor.

The air was filled with the hiss of static, and the rain drumming on the thatch, and the low drone of bees rumbling on beneath them.

Another flash, and another, like flashbulbs exploding.

Rachel called to her brother again but did not look away from the window.

It was as though she were looking down on the chalk carving through a tunnel of light. The circle must have been a half a mile away, perhaps more, but she could clearly make out the figure that was marching around inside it. She narrowed her eyes, desperate to see more, and stared, unblinking, until she was sure about exactly what she was seeing.

There was a boy inside the chalk circle.

From the size of the moving figure, Rachel was able to estimate that the circle was maybe sixty feet across. She watched the boy trudge around and around, head down against the rain, tracing out the intersecting lines, pacing faster and faster.

As though he were moving in spite of himself.

“Adam, you need to come and see this.”

There was no reply from the bed, and Rachel continued to watch, almost as if she knew what was coming next, as the boy turned, walked deliberately to the center of the circle, and looked up.

She knew that he was looking at her, that somehow he could see her in her tiny window. She could hear the thump of her own heart taking its place in the complex rhythm of the rain and the bees, and she watched through the blackness as the boy raised an arm and pointed up at her.

Suddenly, the window cracked, loud as a gunshot, and a jagged line crept down the glass from top to bottom.

Rachel stepped back. Wanting to scream, wanting to run. Unable to tear her eyes away from the boy. Staring out at him through the thickening curtain of rain. Breathless…

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7 thoughts on “Extraterrestrials, zombies, Green Men…why not?

  1. hm, I am not sure if this is exactly for me or not. It sounds interesting, but I don’t know… Maybe if my library has it I will give it a try at some point.

  2. I’ve never seen that symbol before — it would be awkward to have three legs, and this image makes it look like they go sideways rather than up and down. That would be even more awkward, unless you had knees that sort of bent sideways, and then you’d look like the insectoid boss in Monsters, Inc. You know the one I’m talking about?

  3. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had kind of a thing against stories taking place in modern day or with modern day characters traveling to distant lands (real or imagined), though I can see these days that this type of story is all the rage.
    It’s possible I need to get over my prejudice, since some of these things sound really interesting. For instance, the sample you gave as piqued my curiosity. Fantasy readers are supposed to be more open-minded, I suspect.

  4. Kailana – It’s a fun short read. It’s not the best story I’ve read, but it kind of makes me nostalgic for those simple adventure books I use to read when I was a kid – the ones where the kids solve mysteries and stuff. BUT, this one is a lot darker.
    Jenny – I’ve never seen Monsters, Inc.! It would be freaky if the legs go sideways, but yeah, it looks like some macabre windmill, doesn’t it?
    Lovkyne – When I was a kid, I read whatever I could get my hands on. But when I was a teen, I was totally against modern day settings and I read only a certain kind of fantasy with few exceptions Now, I’ve realized I was probably missing out on a lot of cool reads because of my pickyness! But, I also think that a lot of the “urban fantasy” or whatever fantasy stories take place in modern times feel like they’re being mass produced. I don’t really know how to explain what it is I’m getting at, but some books have this “cheapness” factor, like they add things into their stories that are more like gimmicks than actually helping the story. Or, the authors just look at what’s popular and follow some sort of formula to produce something that will sell.

  5. It’s been a couple years since I read this, so I’m not entirely sure re:the ending. Rereading my review…I think that some things aren’t fully explained in this book? I kind of remember it being all vague and not very understandable. The next book explains things more, though, including the aliens bit. I haven’t read the third book yet, but I’m hoping that’ll tie everything up. (I’ll probably need to reread the first two before reading the last one, haha!)

  6. Anastasia – So I did guess it right?? Haha. I was caught between an interpretation that involved aliens or maybe gods. But, honestly, I had NO IDEA that there would be aliens until like the very end of the book. And even then, I just kind of desperately grabbed for whatever filaments of plot I could to make sense of what happened.

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