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The Amber Fury

by Natalie Haynes

Alex is teaching Greek tragedy to a small group of unruly teenagers in an Edinburgh pupil referral unit but she can't foresee that they are becoming increasingly obsessed with their new teacher's secret past, with equally tragic consequences. This spellbinding story made me start to think more about grief, dysfunction and how we're all in some ways trying to escape the past. Definitely one to recommend.

Extract

So, as the classroom door opened, I was remembering the conversations that I used to have with my house-mates when we were all teacher-training: one in maths, one in history and me in drama and dramatherapy. Children are like animals, we agreed. They can sense fear. Like pack animals. Like hyenas. They know when you're afraid and they use it against you, taking advantage of their superior numbers to destroy you. We really did see our charges as interchangeable with wild dogs. No wonder I'd given up as soon as I'd qualified: no audience was ever as frightening as a classroom ....
I could smell them as soon as I saw them; fresh smoke clung to their clothes as they came in. Whatever else they were allergic to, it wasn't cigarettes. As the five of them slunk into the room - they were late of course - it was a small scrappy red-haired boy who voiced what they were all thinking. 'Who the fuck are you?'

Parallels

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling
Mythos: the Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry
 

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