Published by Orion Children's Books on February 7th 2013
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Cosmo's brother Brian died when he was ten years old. His mum hides her grief by working all the hours God sends and Cosmo lives with his grandparents. They've been carefree days as Granddad buys him a horse called John and teaches him all he knows about horses. But the good times have to come to an end and although he doesn't want to admit it, Cosmo knows his Granddad is losing his mind. So on one of the rare occasions when Granddad seems to recognise him, Cosmo is bemused that he gives him a key to Blackbrick Abbey and urges him to go there. Cosmo shrugs it off, but gradually Blackbrick draws him in...
Cosmo arrives there, scared and lonely, and is dropped off at the crumbling gates of a huge house. As he goes in, the gates close, and when he turns to look, they're rusty and padlocked as if they haven't been opened in years. Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather as a young man, and questions begin to form in his mind: can Cosmo change the course of his family's future?
In Back to Blackbrick, Cosmo lives with his grandparents and his grandfather's health is deteriorating. As he starts to forget who he is, Cosmo tries his best to help his grandfather remember. One good day, his grandfather gives him a key to Blackbrick, an old abbey and tells him to use it on a specific gate. When the key opens the past, Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather, only as a teenager.
What he finds is that his grandfather is in love with someone who is not his grandmother. But how can he turn down his new friend to help rescue a girl and bring her to Blackbrick. While trying not to change the future, Cosmo must make sure the past happens as it is supposed to. There was a lot to this book that really screamed to be more of an upper middle grade or young adult novel. Many of the moments even made me uncomfortable when it came to some of the relationships.
I liked the idea of Back to Blackbrick, but there were some disconnected and disturbing moments that really put me off the book as one pegged for middle grade readers. Almost too serious at times, I felt a little stuck in the past and was not sure how the end would turn out. I felt for Cosmo as he struggled to deal with the past and future at the same time. The other characters really spoke to me as well and I felt their pain throughout the book.
Final Verdict: Beyond the somewhat shady situations, I enjoyed Back to Blackbrick, a time travel adventure that puts a true value on family. I suggest it for more mature readers and would not suggest it for middle grade readers.