Ben Gribbin's Thomas Silent was published by Elsewhen Press in November 2015. The paperback edition will be published in February 2016. (Portions of the text were previously published as Thomas, Silent by Black Leaf Publishing in 2010.)
Information about Ben Gribbin:
Ben Gribbin first fell in love with the sea when he was born in Brighton in 1976. Fascinated by fantasy and still in love with the sea, he uses these as major themes in his writing, particularly his poetry. He took his love for the sea with him when he studied at Trinity College, Dublin, for an MPhil in Creative Writing and Publishing, and spent any time not writing, or drinking Guinness, gazing wistfully at the beautiful Eastern Irish Coast.
Whilst living in London and pursuing a career in helping other people to publish their writing at a major publishing house, Ben wrote the first draft of Thomas Silent. Several rewrites, 4 house moves, one wedding and 3 children later, Ben is excited to see his work in print.
Ben has had poetry published in Magma, and The Irish Poetry Review. He also had The Sad Happy Tale of Aberystwyth the Bat, a novella for children, published in 2015.
Ben continues to love writing and the sea, working in his small box room in rural East Sussex, where he lives with his wife and children.
Information about Thomas Silent:
When widower Angelo found a small baby on the beach twelve years ago, he decided to bring him up as his own son. A sign around the baby's neck said 'THOMAS SILENT', so that was the name he was given. Apart from other people's curiosity about his name, Tom's life so far had been happy and uneventful. When he wasn't at school Tom would help Angelo run the café in his beachside shack. One sunday morning Tom was in the café on his own when a tall, thin, old man called Phillimore came in to escape from the rain. He showed Tom seven bright blue stones that he claimed came from a mermaid's necklace. When Tom held one of the stones he could almost feel the rise and fall of the ocean. Phillimore left and Tom thought no more about the stones or the strange old man until Angelo died and the café shack was closed.
Six months later when Tom visits the deserted shack, he finds an envelope from Angelo and discovers what else had been found with the baby on the beach. Tom's simple life suddenly becomes a mysterious adventure that starts with a magical night-time swim to the shore of a strange land. He meets Coralie, a girl hiding in the caves on the beach with Phillimore. The people of the land are held captive to the will of an evil tyrant whose power comes from more of the blue stones, which he has been hoarding in the city of Murmur. Tom realises that he, Thomas Silent, is the only one who can defeat the tyrant and save the people of Murmur. But first he must understand the power of the sea-stones and discover his true self.
This delightful tale of real mermaids and mermen will enthrall any teenager who knows that they are special and have a great destiny waiting for them. Those of us who have left teenage years behind will equally relate to Tom's personal journey. We have all looked out from a beach and wondered what is over the sea, but so very few of us find out like Tom.
A REVIEW OF BEN GRIBBIN'S THOMAS SILENT
Ben Gribbin's Thomas Silent (aka Thomas Silent: or, Why there are no more mermaids) was a pleasant surprise for me, because it turned out to be a compelling and entertaining fairy-tale-like story about real mermaids and mermen. I read it in one sitting, and by the end, I could only think of what a fine and absorbing story I had just read.
Thomas Silent is Ben Gribbin's first fantasy adventure novel for young adults. It's a good old-fashioned yet modern fairy-tale adventure which is told in a heartwarming and pleasant manner. It's an interesting adventure that will delight readers of all ages who are fascinated by stories about mermaids and mermen, because it's something a bit different.
As many of us know, mermaids and mermen have held our fascination for many years. There's something about them and their existence that makes us want to know more about them, because they differ from us. This lovely story offers readers an opportunity to read about mermaids and mermen in a new way, because the author has created his own original vision of them.
Because I have personally been more than a bit annoyed with the low quality of many new mermaid novels due to their annoying urban fantasy elements and cumbersome romantic twists, I was pleased to read Thomas Silent, because it was a different kind of a novel and lacked all the unnecessary fluffy elements. There was something irresistible in this novel that made me want to read it in one sitting. I loved its fairy-tale-like atmosphere and I liked the story, because the author wrote effortlessly about Tom's life and adventures.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- In the beginning, Tom has celebrated his 12th birthday, although nobody actually knows if he's 12 years old, because he was found 12 years ago on the beach with a piece of paper that had his name - Thomas Silent - written on it. He helps his dad, Angelo, in the café shack on the beach. Angelo is the man who found him.
- A man called Phillimore comes to the café. He shows Tom bright blue stones that need to be in seawater and tells him that they are from a mermaid's necklace. When Tom holds one of the stones he can feel the rise and fall of the ocean. The old man tells Tom a bit about the stones before he leaves the café.
- When Angelo dies, Tom is looked after by the sister of Angelo's late wife. A few months later, when Tom visits the shack, he finds an envelope and discovers what else Angelo found with him on the beach. He finds six stones that have something to do with the sea. He senses that the stones are guiding him and he finds another stone. During his night-time swim he finds the shore of another land.
- Tom meets Coralie who hides in the caves with Phillimore. Coralie tells him about the city of Murmur, which is ruled by a tyrant. Soon Tom realises that he is the only one who can defeat the tyrant and save the people of Murmur...
This is the beginning of an interesting adventure story that will delight younger readers as well as older readers who love fairy-tale adventures. It transcends the normal boundaries of young adult fiction and children's fiction by being a story that also attracts adult readers.
Tom is an interesting protagonist and his adventures will please young adult readers who like to read about heroes. He's a classic heroic protagonist who finds out that he has to learn things and become a hero. I think it's possible that many young adults will be able to identify themselves with Tom and his experiences.
Ben Gribbin writes fluently about Tom's life and how he gets by after Angelo's death. The relationship between Tom and the sister of Angelo's late wife, Mrs. Galloway, is handled in a realistic way. It's not a happy relationship, but Mrs. Galloway doesn't maltreat Tom - however, Tom senses that she doesn't really care that much for him.
The author writes intriguingly about Tom, Coralie and Phillimore. I won't reveal any spoilers about the characters, but I think that readers will enjoy reading about their backgrounds and what kind of a connection they share between each other. What is revealed about them is intriguing.
Ben Gribbin has invented an interesting and original vision of mermaids and mermen, because he writes about people who live in a parallel realm, but sometimes visit our world. The sea-stones can be used to travel between the worlds (if you want to go through the oceans, you must have seven stones, because together they're very powerful). It was interesting for me to read about the stones and what was possible to do with them.
Although this novel is an adventure story about saving a city, it's also Tom's growing up story. At the beginning of the story Tom is a young boy who knows nothing about who he is and where he comes from, but gradually he finds out who he truly is and what he must do. He has an interesting past.
Ben Gribbin's prose flows easily and his writing style feels entertaining. His story is simple, but beautiful. While reading this novel, I noticed that it had a bit of wistfulness and a few moments of lyrical beauty and that are seldom found in young adult fantasy fiction.
I give this charming novel strong four stars on the scale from one to five stars, because it's an interesting fantasy adventure. I sincerely hope that Ben Gribbin will continue to write more this kind of stories, because he seems to have a talent for writing good young adult stories.
Thomas Silent is a relatively short novel that can easily be read in one sitting. It will keep readers of all ages glued to it. It can be recommended to the whole family, but older children may enjoy it a bit more than younger children, because they'll be able to comprehend the complex elements of the story.
Ben Gribbin's Thomas Silent is a charming story for readers of all ages who are willing to immerse themselves into a fairy-tale-like adventure. It has simply beauty and captivating allure that will charm readers. All you need to enjoy this novel is to have a child-like fascination with fantasy stories and a love for the fantastic, because it takes readers on a magical journey to a parallel realm where things are a bit different than in our world.
Good entertainment to readers of all ages!