Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black


Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black is a lyrical and dreamlike story of two brothers in conflict amidst the devastation of WWII London.

Harry Black, a conscientious objector, wakes in hospital following a bomb blast.  He learns that his soldier brother Ellis is missing following a V2 rocket raid. In a state of psychological crisis, Harry begins to blur the distinctions between reality and fantasy, particularly his unpublished sci-fi novel, a re-telling of the myth of Orpheus.

Driven by visions of Ellis still alive, Harry discharges himself from hospital and begins a search for his brother.  He is helped in his search by Agatha, a nurse at the hospital and a Jewish German refugee.  His search leads him deep into the city’s Underworld/Hades, run by Old Jimmy and his murderous gang of thugs.

This is a quite unique novel, told in a mesmerising blend of poetry and prose by Marcus and Julian Sedgwick, with fantastic illustrations by Alexis Deacon.

Nominated for the Carnegie award, and deservedly so, this is a complex and richly rewarding novel.

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Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black

Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Alexis Deacon

(Walker Books) – hardback

Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black is a magnificent piece of writing.  Marcus and Julius Sedgwick reinterpret the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, supported by glorious illustrations by Alexis Deacon.
These talents combine to brilliant effect to create a lyrical and dreamlike tale of two brothers.  They are separated by the war, but also because of their deeply held views.  Harry believes his brother to still be alive following a V2 rocket attack and begins a search in the devastation of wartime London.
Furthermore, his search takes him into the London underworld, ruled by the sinister Old Jimmy and his gang of murderous thugs.  Will Harry be able to find his brother, or is it all in his fevered imagination?
The tale of Orpheus has been the inspiration for many books for young people, notably Bone Gap, available in the Bookwagon store.


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