Stephen Fair is quite a good book, though not at all what I expected from the promotional text on the back cover. I think we've all experienced that before.
The back cover and the picture on the front of the book led me to believe I was getting into some vaguely supernatural voyage of discovery and the book wasn't like that at all.
Stephen is fifteen when the nightmares begin. The dream is always the same: a crying baby, a wooden ladder, a house built in the branches, fire everywhere. Night after night, the fantastic images haunt him. More chilling than the dream itself, though, is the fact that this is the very same nightmare that haunted Stephen's brother, Marcus--the dream that drove Marcus to run away. Now Stephen is the age his brother was when he left, and he wonders what it all means. Determined not to run from the truth, Stephen steels himself for a journey of remarkable discovery that he hopes will eventually lead him to the truth about the past and, ultimately, about himself.
It's actually a relatively straightforward story about a teenager who is prompted to discover a dark family secret by a re-occurring nightmare. There's a lot more to the story than that, but that's the basic kernel.
Mr. Wynne-Jones does an excellent job of exploring Stephen's character and the lives of his friends. He completely captures fragments of time in such a way that you'll find yourself re-reading passages for the sheer pleasure of the author's words.
I especially enjoyed the budding relationship between Stephen and Virginia. It really rings true, as do the glimpses we get into Stephen's inner conversations. The descriptions of his home, called The Ark, are wonderfully evocative. I found myself wishing I could enter the pages of the book, if only to see the house.
I absolutely won't tell you any more about the plot of the book because it is imperative to your enjoyment of it that you do not know what happens at the end ahead of time. So, if you come across someone who has read it, don't let them tell you. Discover it for yourself.