Joe lives with his mother in Helmouth, a forgotten village crumbling on the edge of the suburbs. His days are spent trying to evade the demands of school and the taunts of the local bullies. Joe's friend, Stanny, insists that Joe must toughen up, become a survivor - and he is adamant that a weekend in the wilderness with Stanny and his Uncle Joff will do the trick.
Into Joe's unhappy world comes Hackenschmidt's Circus, and with it the strangely familiar Corinna. She tells Joe, 'In the circus there is a secret heart ' - a place of contained wildness where the barriers between the human and animal world are fluid. And indeed, Joe's dreams are already stalked by a tiger, so real that his skin and its pelt begin to feel as one...
A stunning novel from the author of the modern children's classic Skellig - winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Book Award. David Almond is also winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen award.
In the media
A sooty darkness permeates the writing, illuminated by sudden bursts of sunlight and the music of skylarks.
The Daily Telegraph
There is a mystical quality about David Almond's writing that makes him quite unlike any other author
A powerful story of love, persecution and freedom, it is his best novel to date (and that's saying something).
David Almond's books are strange, unsettling, wild things...like all great literature, beyond classification. An exhilarating, though not always easy read for anyone who, like Joe, has tigers and larks in their heart.