Title: After the Hole by Guy Burt
Tagline: Death is always to be found beneath the ground.
Summary: On a bright spring day in England, six teenagers laugh and joke as they make their way to a neglected part of the institution they mockingly call Our Glorious School. Hidden in the dark hollow of a buttress is the door to a small windowless cellar. Behind the door, the old stairs have rotted away. A boy unfurls a rope ladder and five descend into The Hole. The sixth closes the cellar door, locks it from the outside, and walks calmly away down the flagstone path.
The idea is simple. While their parents think they are on a field trip, and the school thinks they’re at home, Frankie, Geoff, Alex, Mike, and Liz will spend three days locked in The Hole. Martyn will remain above ground, promising that when the five emerge into daylight, they’ll have been part of the greatest prank the infamous schemer has ever engineered.
The three days pass predictably: a lot of talking, some booze, flirting, a few friendly fights. At five P.M. on the third day, they drink a celebratory bottle of vodka and wait for the mastermind to arrive and release them. Thirty hours later, they realise that Martyn is not coming to let them out… ever.
Note: As before with the movie, I will take scenes at their face value and comment on them, and then loop back if they are contradicted/expanded. I’ll actually use footnotes for this though – it will be a number in square brackets. They may even be links if WordPress lets me. This makes it a very hard book to recap, so bear with me.
[Wing: I’m scheduling this post to go public on the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, because it is the start of my favourite season, and this is a creepy and twisty way to start it, and it is also a sad family day from which I want to be distracted.]
Warning: There is a rape in this book. I’ve tried to keep the language I use as non-threatening as possible, and keep discussion of it down to a minimum. However, it’s there. You have been warned.
This is less initial thoughts and more a warning. If you want to read the book, go read the book. It’s a lot easier now than it was in 2003, when I read it. I had to get an out-of-print second-hand copy from a seller on Amazon marketplace, using a friend’s account (my ex got me blacklisted for six years from 2001 onwards), because eBay didn’t have it.
It’s on the kindle now. It’s £3.99. Go read it, because if you’re interested you’ll enjoy the book much more if you just read it, rather than read my recap (which is spoilerific), and then the book.
The book doesn’t have much in common with the movie, so seriously, this is your last chance, go buy it and read it. It’s about the length of the average Sweet Valley Twins, so it’s like an hour out of your day. And you might enjoy it.
(Oh, and forgive some of the prose. Guy Burt was seventeen when he wrote it.)
Also, I’m actually going to note the chapters in this, because it becomes very significant later, and you may want to check something. You’re welcome.