The Other Side of the Whale Road by K.A. Hayton

Today I am excited to be part of The Write Reads blog tour for The Other Side of Whale Road by K.A. Hayton. Many thanks to Dave and all from The Write Reads for including me on the tour and for sending me a digital copy of the book.

A young adult fiction debut

How dark were the Dark Ages? Joss is about to find out…

Shortlisted for the Chicken House Competition



AGE: 12–15


Book Description

How dark were the Dark Ages? Joss is about to find out…

‘The Vikings are better armed than we are. They have long, heavy axes that can take a man’s head from his shoulder. I know this because I see it happen.’‍

When his mum burns down their house on the Whitehorse estate, sixteen-year-old Joss is sent to live in a sleepy Suffolk village.

The place is steeped in history, as Joss learns when a bike accident pitches him back more than 1,000 years to an Anglo-Saxon village. That history also tells him his new friends are in mortal peril from bloodthirsty invaders. Can he warn their ruler, King Edmund, in time?

And will he ever get home?

My Review

The main character in The Other Side of the Whale Road is Joss, a sixteen year old, very likeable foster kid whose Mum, Tracy, was pregnant with him when she was his age. He has had a difficult life so far with various different men living with them and his Mum not too stable financially or mentally. She even managed to burn down their house with a cigarette, which is why he is now in foster care with Tim and Cressida, in a fancy house in Suffolk, separated from his twin toddler siblings. He has a rocky start to his new life in this new home town of Hoxne, with a fight in the school bathrooms, which leads to him being suspended from school. From this episode, it becomes clear to us that Joss is brave, and will not sit idly by when someone tries to bully a weaker kid.

“I knew that violence isn’t the answer, I also knew you don’t get peace by refusing to fight. It wasn’t the answer, but sometimes it had to be part of the answer.”

The next thing we know, he borrows Tim’s bike and manages to go careening over into a quarry and knocks himself senseless. When he wakes up he slowly comes to the conclusion from observing the people he meets, their language, the clothes he is now wearing and scenes around him, that he has travelled in time back to Anglo-Saxon times – or is he just concussed or dreaming? Somehow his bike has travelled with him and becomes a source of interest to the Anglo-Saxons. He realises this cannot all be a dream when he gets into a sword fight with the village’s second in command, Wuffa and ends up with a deep cut on his arm. Wuffa is a similar character to the boy he fought with back in the present day – someone intolerant of anyone different, who is not from the local area. Joss is used to this type of person and does not put up with their xenophobic mean-spiritedness.

Joss is taken in by another foster mother in a very basic Anglo-Saxon home, nothing like Tim and Cressida’s large house that he was looking forward to living in. He is grateful for the roof over his head, however, and soon settles in and begins working in the dyeing house, dyeing cloth with the women of the village, since he proves himself not very good at the usual types of ‘men’s work’.

I liked how laid back Joss was about everything. He had travelled in time but did not dwell on it too much. Occasionally his emotions threatened to get the better of him, but mostly he just made the best of things, made some friends and got on with his life. He has clearly had to be pretty flexible throughout his young life so far and is quite mature when it comes to accepting his fate and making the best of a situation.

I loved how the author was able to bring into this Middle Grade/YA story all kinds of educational details about the Anglo-Saxon period without the reader feeling like they were being taught. I also enjoyed the inclusion of a phrase in Old Norse or Old English at the beginning of each chapter, which helped to set the atmosphere for the story.

The ‘Whale Road’ from the book’s title refers to the ocean and the village has been repeatedly raided by ‘Danish pirates’ (Vikings) each year. In the past King Edmund has been able to pay them off but what will happen this year? Joss is not too concerned as it doesn’t feel all that real to him. Indeed right before the Vikings arrive he finds himself back in the present again unsure of how he got there. Apparently Tim was only looking for him for about half an hour, although he was in the past for weeks, helping to bring in most of the harvest. His only proof that it wasn’t all a dream is his scar on his arm.

While out walking Joss meets the vicar of Hoxne, an Anglo-Saxon scholar who tells him the story of the battle of Hoxne, against the Vikings in the year 865 – 869. As Joss’s life in the present day goes from bad to worse he plans what he could do to help against the Vikings – but however will he be able to get back in time again to help his Anglo-Saxon friends? Desperation is fueling his actions by this point and time-travel seems his only escape – but how to achieve it?

I won’t give away any more plot except to say that things get very exciting towards the conclusion, and that I found this book surprisingly difficult to put down – I really enjoyed it and couldn’t figure out how it would end!

Amazon | goodreads

About the Author

K.A. HAYTON was born in Lincolnshire and read English at Sheffield University. She lives in Suffolk with her husband and has two daughters. The idea for The Other Side of the Whale Road came from her study of old English poetry at university, and from living in a place where Anglo-Saxon history feels very close.

More information: Simon Edge | 07765 898650 ||

Lightning Books is the fiction imprint of Eye Books, which was founded in 1996.

We celebrate our silver jubilee in 2021 by publishing 25 books for 25 years

Related Posts

2 thoughts on “The Other Side of the Whale Road by K.A. Hayton

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s