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Charlie's Key
     

Charlie's Key

by Rob Mills
 

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When Charlie Sykes wakes up in hospital in St. John's, he learns that he and his father have been in a car accident and that his father is dying. Charlie inherits little more than the brass key that his father pressed into his hand before he passed away. As far as Charlie knows, he has no family in Newfoundland. But then Uncle Nick shows up and is keen to meet his

Overview

When Charlie Sykes wakes up in hospital in St. John's, he learns that he and his father have been in a car accident and that his father is dying. Charlie inherits little more than the brass key that his father pressed into his hand before he passed away. As far as Charlie knows, he has no family in Newfoundland. But then Uncle Nick shows up and is keen to meet his nephew—not because of who Charlie is, but rather because of what Charlie has: the key.

That key will unlock a treasure Uncle Nick began searching for more than thirty years earlier. And he would have found it all those years ago if he hadn't been arrested and sent away for murder. But Charlie isn't convinced he should give up the key. He leads Uncle Nick on a wild chase through old St. John's, across Signal Hill and out to the coast. There, high above the rugged Atlantic, Charlie finally comes face-to-face with Uncle Nick, the treasure, and a family history that will leave him with a new understanding of where he comes from and where he's going.

Editorial Reviews

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"Charlie is a true teen hero. Faced with a situation that would be well beyond the abilities of the average 13-year-old, Charlie is a character that will catch the attention of most teenagers. A fast-moving and exciting plot leaves the reader wanting more at the end of each page. The descriptions of Newfoundland are haunting, creating a compelling visual backdrop for the story. The conclusion is both believable and satisfying."
CM Magazine
"This suspenseful mystery keeps the reader engaged...Charlie is a very likeable character, one to whom readers will easily relate. In addition to the major themes, censorship and literacy are issues which are also brought up and could instigate conversation in a classroom. Highly Recommended."
CanLit for Little Canadians blog
"Mills' writing seamlessly brings together the pathos of Charlie's situation with the coarseness of Frankie's and Nick's circumstances...The cliff hangers, beyond those of its setting, repeatedly lead the reader to anticipate but instead surprise, just the way a great thriller should."
Tri State YA Book Review Committee
"In Charlie, Rob Mills has created a nearly perfect, enigmatic character. Charlie is naïve yet worldly. He is compassionate and vulnerable, yet resilient and resourceful...The falling action is equally intriguing, and when the reader reaches the ending, he finds it to be shocking and emotional. Readers will want a sequel, needless to say, in order to discover the next chapter in Charlie's life. Mills combines contemporary topics like child abuse and a writing style that is full of local color and dialect to give us an excellent book."
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Charlie's father has just died leaving the thirteen-year-old with a lot of questions and a key. He does not know what the key opens but the way his father gave it to him makes him think that it might be dangerous to let anyone else know about it, especially the cop who has been guarding Charlie's door at the hospital where he was taken after the car accident. Since he has no relatives who can take him, Charlie is sent to a juvenile detention center until Child Services can find a more permanent home for him. He becomes the target of a vicious bully at the detention center and determines to escape as soon as he can. With the help of a former inmate and a detainee in a nearby rehab center he runs away from the detention center. He discovers that he has an uncle whose existence was unknown to him and who has just been released from prison after serving time for two murder convictions. His uncle wants the key and is willing to pursue Charlie all across Newfoundland to get it. Charlie needs to find out what the key opens and he needs to decide whom to trust. The heart-stopping action leads to a cliff overlooking the ocean where Charlie must make his decision. This is a compelling mystery with sympathetic characters that will engage young adult readers. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
Kirkus Reviews

Thirteen-year-old Charlie inherits just one thing from his troubled dad: a key. What it's for might be revealed by his thuggish uncle, who's now relentlessly stalking him.

In this debut Canadian import, Charlie's father slips him a key just before dying. With only one other relative, Uncle Nick, whose long prison stint for two murders is just ending, he's sent to a brutal juvenile detention center while Child Services seeks a more permanent placement. Charlie, intrepid and amusing, escapes with the help of Frankie, a newly released teen inmate, and Clare, a girl who is addicted to "Oxys." Nick, with a badly scarred hand, which he uses to good effect to threaten people, weaves in and out of Charlie's first-person narrative as the boy evades his sinister presence as well as authorities who don't truly seem to have his best interests in mind. While foggy cliffs and colorful villages effectively evoke the exotic Newfoundland setting, it's the mystery that moves the tale forward. It is not only focused on the purpose of the key, but also on Charlie's need to discover his father's role in the murder of possibly pedophilic Brother of the Holy Order. The sexual abuse at an orphanage, briefly described, is based on actual events.

A fast-paced, often riveting mystery with a plausible, thrilling climax. (Mystery. 11-15)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554698721
Publisher:
Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
10/01/2011
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

I feel his hand twitch and twitch again. I put both my hands around his. And then, just a tiny bit, it opens. Then a bit more, and I feel something drop out of it, small, hard, hot in my palm. A key. I can tell without even looking.

Meet the Author

Rob Mills has been an award-winning reporter, newspaper editor and writer in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Ontario. Charlie's Key is his first published novel. He lives in Pererborough, Ontario with his wife and two daughters.

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