Bleak Trail by Diane Pike


Adventure and adversity in the wilds of western Canada.

Highly-praised children’s author, Diane Pike, turns her attention to historical fiction with huge acclaim in her latest book, Bleak Trail.

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It is 1880, and Canada is a vast, wild country where pioneers are building a railway from east to west. Edward Butler, a teenager from a wealthy family in England, leaves home to meet his elder brother in Jasper, a ramshackle town in western Canada. On arrival, Edward finds to his great dismay his brother, George, a rail company surveyor, is no longer there to meet him; and it leaves Edward abandoned in the wilds, to fend for himself.

After awful bad luck on the road to Jasper, Edward is compelled to accept an assignment that he is just not ready for. During this exploit, he runs into some very unreliable characters; endures the most hazardous weather conditions, and experiences near-death escapes. By sheer determination to overcome such hardships the seventeen-year-old Edward is transformed from a naïve schoolboy into a hero. Can the seventeen-year-old Edward survive the terrible bad luck, treacherous weather conditions and life-threatening challenges …?

Inspired by Canada’s breath-taking but harsh landscape, Bleak Trail is a well-written story crafted brilliantly around a young boy’s rite-of-passage from privileged teen to toughened man, strengthened by the challenges cast his way. Perfectly pitched to young adult readers, the characters are realistic with often-humorous dialogue and relatable emotions. Readers quickly share and delight in Edwards’s initial excitement arriving in an unknown country, as well as his unforeseen obstacles and opportunities faced by explorers during the late 19th century.

The historical context is well conveyed, recreated through the boys’ adventures and new-world experiences of an opportunistic era. And, throughout the book, there are vivid descriptions that depict Canada’s unique blend of raw beauty and danger.

Beautifully-illustrated with an engaging narrative, this is a wonderful coming-of-age and survival story inspired by Canada’s challenging wilderness during a time when anything was possible. Bleak Trail will appeal to young adult readers and fans of historical fiction, adventure, travel and modern literature.

Review Copies of Bleak Trail and interviews with the author are available on request.
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This book is available to order from Amazon.

Pages: 94
Price: £6.99 (Paperback); £6.99 (Kindle Edition)
ISBN: 9781782227601

About the Author

Diane Pike spent her childhood years in an old West Midlands industrial town but always longed to escape to the countryside. From an early age, writing has been her – long life passion and the author has taught for over thirty years specialising in English, Drama and Creative Dance. She has written, directed and performed plays for both adults and children and is an active member of a West Midlands Shakespeare society.

With her great love of animals, she has always been surrounded by dogs, cats… and chickens! Her fascination for chickens led to the creation of her earlier publications of children’s picture books that include ‘Three Noisy Chickens and the Easter Egg Hunt’ and ‘Three Noisy Chickens to the Rescue.’

Diane’s travels have taken her to various areas of west and east Europe and to America, but after visiting Canada with its wild beauty, she was inspired to write Bleak Trail, her first historical adventure story written for middle-grade students/ young adults. In September 2020, Bleak Trail was accepted into the Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives, Alberta, Canada.

Diane lives in the rural area of Stafford with her husband Alan, who has created and produced the illustrations for all her books.