Blackbrooke by Emma Silver:
I live in Blackbrooke and you would have had to be living under a rock to never have heard of it before now. This town is different to most others…Humans aren’t the only residents…”
The residents of Blackbrooke share their town with the Creatures, or Crits as they are known. Grotesque, roaming the streets at night looking for food, their presence means humans have to live by the Rules, keeping them indoors and forbidding them of basic desires.
The most important Rule?
Don’t be a ‘walk out’!
Straight-A student, Liberty Connor, hates the Crits and the endless Rules she and her tight knit group of friends have to live by.
Planning her new life on the Outside with her boyfriend, Gabriel, Liberty whiles away her days waiting to turn 18, so they can leave and be free. That is, until the world she thinks she knows begins to unravel…
Her friends start to walk out. So she’s told. However, something’s not right. Things don’t add up.
Liberty faces a race against time to discover what’s going on with the Creatures of Blackbrooke.
Is it them she has to fear, or something much closer to home?
Blackbrooke is a Young Adult horror novel that has you on the edge of your seat.
Please check out my review for Blackbrooke.
But without further ado, I was lucky enough to get an insiders scoop on Blackbrooke by interviewing one of its residents, Cassius Godwin.
Emmy~ Thanks for meeting with me for this interview Cassius. Denzil was kind enough to give me your name when I walked into Tales from the Crits. I tell ya, it's quite the process getting a daypass into Blackbrooke and I dont think I'll want to return anytime soon... It's a bit creepy here for me to be honest but the history here should be documented and spread world wide. I've read official reports but I want an insiders scoop. Are you willing to share?
Cassius~ Wow, I'd share if I knew. I really would. All I know are the ten rules we have to recite. We have a lot of teenage walk outs, the golden age seems to be seventeen when they decide its all too much but...I don't know, I don't buy it. That many teenagers so depressed they step outside and let the Crits eat them? I mean, for all we know, the Crits are harmless. People might be running out into the night and sneaking out of Blackbrooke. The adults bang on about all of the reasons why it happens but they don't have a clue. Or if they do, they're not letting us in on it. Sorry, I wish I could tell you more...
How many generations of Godwin's can you trace back here in Blackbrooke?
Since the dawn of time. Probably since the bloody dinosaurs. No, my mum used to be into geneology and did some research but the town records are scarce and my grandparents died young. The weird thing is that my parents were the last surviving kids in their families so I'm pretty much the last Godwin. There's only me to carry on the name. No pressure! I'll probably be the reason the Godwins die out because I doubt I'll ever get married or have kids.
Have there been walk outs in your family?
Yes. My sister walked out when she was seventeen and my mum the year later.
I'm sorry to hear that. Do you have close friends?
I have one friend I'm quite close to, Xiang. He's great. He's quiet like me and sometimes gets a hard time because some of the lads think he's weird looking and he isn't very good at sports. Apparently if you excel at sports, you're some kind of god at Blackbrooke Academy. It's pathetic.
Day in and day out in a small town where everybody knows each others dirty laundry has to be difficult. Is it hard growing up around the same people? Or does growing up around families with similar issues bring the community together?
It depends on the day as to how I feel about this. It's good that most people are used to me now, you know, with the hair and stuff, so a lot of them don't give me a second glance. However, in the Academy there are a few kids that give me a hard time. I'm an easy target so when they're feeling a bit bored, I get it in the neck.
I think, on the whole, people in Blackbrooke are quite close knit. I know everyone who lives on my street and have a couple of friends at school who I spend time with. We hear about a lot of crime on the Outside but it doesn't happen here. Humans are on the same side so I suppose the Crit dodging unites us.
I don't mean to be so bold but since you brought it up, what is your story? With the "hair and stuff"?
Heterochromia. My eyes are different colours which you've no doubt noticed. My pale skin and white hair is all linked apparently. Some lack of pigment or something, I don't know. I'm past caring. Nothing's going to change it and the whole of Blackbrooke thinks I'm a freak and that's the way it'll always be.Do you think you'll ever leave Blackbrooke?
Sometimes I think there's nothing I'd rather do but then...I don't know, I get scared. Everyone knows me here - they know I look different so as long as I avoid the tourists, I rarely have to face that freaked out look when people first see me. On the Outside, I imagine spending the rest of my life explaining my condition and I find that quite a depressing prospect.
Do you feel like there is a secret in Blackbrooke? Do you ever question the status quo?
Everyday. I think the Rules are put in place more to control us than to protect us. All that stuff about girls wearing their hair up and...fornication, it just smacks of a town that wants to keep its kids pure. And then they kid us by saying we'll be in 'grave danger' if we break them. I don't think it matters, half of the lads in my classes drone on about sex with their girlfriends and they're fine. And with the hair rule, are you telling me that if a Queen decided it wanted to scalp a kid, a couple of hair pins would stop it? No way.
These rules sound strict and a little absurd. Heaven forbid someone would want to *cough* let their hair down.
Do you like to follow the rules or are you a rule breaker? ;)
Haha! After everything I've just said, I do actually follow the Rules. It's not a purposeful thing because I'm scared, it just because I don't really have any reason to break them. There have been some nights where I've sat on the step at the back door of my house until its gone dark but that's as close as I've got to being a rulebreaker. I'm a bit boring really..
Are there certain rules you want to break or feel like are just too strict?
Well, it makes little difference to me but if things were different then I'd say Rule 8 is probably the most harsh. You know, the sex rule. It not so much the age thing, it's just the fact that its seen as this forbidden and dirty act that will have some devastating effect on your family and the whole of Blackbrooke if you do it. Like I said, I'm not buying that its to do with the Crits smelling the pheromones on us, I think its a power thing.
Wow. These rules sound really intense. Lets get to a less serious (and creepy) topic...
I've seen some of the school kids around town and noticed you don't wear the uniform, are your skinny jeans, tie and coat a fashion statement? A way to rebel? Or are you trying to impress the ladies?
Oh...god...no! That's not the case at all. Not really anyway. I was a really small kid and went from barely five feet to...I think I'm 6 ft 2 or something...yeah, I grew really fast and Blackbrooke had no school trousers that fit me. I was still really skinny, and they had to have them specially made so, as long as I was reasonably smart, they let me wear what I wanted. By the time the trousers arrived, I'd grown again so everyone just gave up. A letter was sent to my dad about it around a year ago but he's not bothered. Get some stick from the teachers from time to time but weirdly none of the other kids seem to comment. Probably because the way I look makes me stand out anyway...
Is there anybody special in your life?
What, you mean like a girlfriend or something? No. I...hang on...this is just going to be printed online isn't it? If that's the case then no one in Blackbrooke will ever see it. You must have heard our internet connection is practically non-existent. Okay, seeing as there's no danger of anyone I know reading it, there's one girl I like but she's not interested in me. She used to be, but not in that way. We used to be friends when we were kids and she's pretty amazing. Never going to happen though. She's got a boyfriend.
Oh Cassius, I just met you but you seem like quite the catch. Don't sell yourself short! The world is full of opportunities and you never know what might happen. So let's get hypothetical, shall we?
If you could leave Blackbrooke and go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
I don't really have a specific place in mind. But I like the idea of either heading somewhere remote where there is no one around for miles, maybe near a lake or up in the mountains somewhere. Either that or a big city that's bustling with people. Somewhere I can hide away, or blend in with the other freaks.
So not to be morbid but I have a bucket list. Mine includes sky diving and choreographing a flash mob to Train in Vain by The Clash... What kind of crazy things would you like to do assuming you ever leave Blackbrooke?
Train in Vain, that's cool. It's from the London Calling album, right? Yeah, my dad has that. He plays the guitar and is really into his punk. Sorry going off track! You can't judge me or laugh by the way, because they're going to seem really lame compared to yours. You have to remember that we don't get to do much in this town. With that in mind, I'd like to try out a music festival - the idea of people camping outdoors at night and watching bands all day amazes me, and I'd like to watch the sun come up on a beach. Is that cheesy? I just like the thought of feeling safe being outside when its dark.
Hahaha. Yeah, that's London Calling. Way to make me feel old lumping me in with your dad! I'll have you know I was born after that album was released. But honestly, those are great items for a bucket list. Keep on dreaming and maybe someday you'll get out there and try for yourself!
I'm a bit of a nerd so forgive me for this next question but I am a Twilight Zone fan and it inspired this question.
If you were stuck in the Twilight Zone and had to repeat the same day over and over, what album, book and drink would you have everyday?
Okay, the book is ridiculous...when I was really little, my family had this really old car that my dad refused to scrap. Every weekend he'd be out, underneath it, covered in oil and shouting his mouth off at the thing. Anyway, he had the workshop manual for it and would make me stand next to the car and read out parts of it as he worked. I was about six and couldn't say half of the words, let alone understand them. My friend, the one I mentioned before, used to help me sometimes because she could read better than me and my mum and sister would come out and laugh at the pair of us, banging on about things like 'carburetors' and 'gaskets'. I've still got the book and it still smells like motor oil and...I don't know, I just have good memories whenever I see it.
I can't choose just one album! That's harsh. Okay, let's see...I have quite ecletic taste so I'd have to flip a coin for either The Who's Quadrophenia or Endtroducing by DJ Shadow. They're not really my favourites but I can completely lose myself when I put them on. As much as I love it, I don't think I could listen to Never Mind the Bollocks by Sex Pistols over and over again!
Drink...hmm...I've started having a drink with my dad sometimes in the evenings but I can't say I've developed much of a taste for it. Weird as it sounds, and pathetic, my old friend's mum used to make us fruit punch in the summer when we used to play which was great.
I love DJ Shadow! I totally get the "losing yourself" comment with his music. It's just music you feel deep in your bones and let it take you away. Oh wow, Never Mind the Bollocks on repeat would earn me a padded cell for sure.
Thanks very much Cassius for sitting in with me for this interview. The adults here are tight lipped, well, except for Denzil, but I wanted a youthful perspective on Blackbrooke.
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