Escaping from a date with destiny

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 May, 2010, 12:00am

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux
Geraldine McCaughrean
Published by Oxford
ISBN 978019 2756022

Young Pepper Roux wakes up on his birthday feeling a bit strange. For the past 14 years, he has been told almost on a daily basis that he would die on his 14th birthday. How and why, he does not know, he just knows that today's the day.

Geraldine McCaughrean's The Death-Defying Pepper Roux is a witty, fast-moving story of an engaging teenager who suddenly becomes determined to escape his destiny.

On the day he was born, Pepper's wise Aunt Mireille leaned over the cot and told her sister, Madame Roux, that her beautiful baby boy would die when he reached 14. She even bought Pepper a small grave plot in the local churchyard for his first birthday.

The Roux family never questioned Aunt Mireille's prediction - what she says always comes true - and the fact that Pepper is now a healthy and bright teenager has made no difference to their expectations.

But on the morning of his 14th birthday, Pepper realises that he rather likes life and decides to take fate into his own hands.

He walks out of his home and away from his relatives, into the rest of his life.

As he walks along the quayside at the harbour, Pepper is mistaken for his father and taken on board a cargo vessel about to set sail. Pepper's father is the boat's captain, and Pepper slips easily into Roux Senior's identity. It is the start of a series of adventures for the boy who thought he was about to die.

From the first page to the last, The Death-Defying Pepper Roux is an eccentric and addictive read. Can Pepper manage to defy death and cheat Aunt Mireille's prediction?