Pageants of Despair

Front Cover
Paul Dry Books, Jul 1, 2006 - Juvenile Fiction - 175 pages
1 Review

Pageants of Despair tells the story of a boy caught in a epic battle between good and evil. After unknown assailants attack his mother, Peter is sent by train to stay with his aunt and uncle. On that ride an eerie figure leads him back in time to the fourteenth century village of Dunfield, where Peter will take part in a mysterious play in which the actors become the characters they portray. Peter believes he has been brought there to counter an unearthly, menacing influence, but a succession of terrifying experiences leads him to suspect that he might instead be destined to cause the disaster he is trying to avert. He needs courage to face the crisis and intelligence to solve the mystery.

In this tale, where ancient pageants morph into horrific realities, the author draws on the actual medieval Townley Cycle of Mystery Plays—which were performed annually at Wakefield, England—to give Peter's experience in the imaginary village of Dunfield a vivid, true-to-life quality.

Praise for Pageants of Despair and Dennis Hamley:

“The history is fascinating…. Hamley has hit on the right road back to such lace-edged, antique virtues as honesty, gentleness, vision, and love.” --Best Sellers

“The ancient tussle between God and the Devil seems to lie at the heart of this tale of sinister skullduggery in the Middle Ages. A good deal of background information on the Mystery Plays and extracts from some of the performances crystallise the setting; the atmosphere of religious superstition and its hold over simple folk are captured with a grim reality and a sense of lurking foreboding. [Readers who] … allow the tensions of time and mystery to work will share a strange experience in an unfamiliar world.” --The Junior Bookshelf

“Hamley does create a lively picture of how the audiences and actors must have responded to the powerful messages of the miracle plays.” --Kirkus Reviews

“The pageants are a frightening battleground—replete with medieval images of corporeal and spiritual corruption—from which Peter and his friends emerge triumphant.” --Booklist

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lisanicholas - LibraryThing

In some ways, this novel follows a well-worn formula for juvenile fiction, while in others it is strikingly unusual. The formula: an adolescent boy from the contermporary, workaday world is ... Read full review

References to this book

About the author (2006)

\Dennis Hamley was born in 1935. He read English at Cambridge University and until 1992 was teacher and lecturer. In that year he retired early to become a full-time writer. Pageants of Despair was his first novel, published in 1974. He lives with his wife in Hertford, England. His new novel, Ellen's People, is published in the UK by Walker Books.

Bibliographic information