When James Walker first arrives at Tudor College, Cambridge, he is anxious to find his place among new friends. By accident, he encounters one of the members of a club calling itself the Tudor Night Climbers, a tightly knit, wealthy, secretive and tantalizingly eccentric circle of undergraduates who at night scale the college towers and gargoyles in pursuit of ever greater sensations. Seduced by their talent for decadence and high living, James falls for the reckless charisma of both Francis, the group's ringleader and Jessica, his beautiful best friend. Jessica becomes his obsession, and also his arch rival for Francis's friendship.
The group's tear-away extravagance is funded, unwittingly, by Francis's father, Lord Soulford, but when suddenly he cuts his son off, the friends are left floundering, until Francis embroils them all in a plan that will test not only their friendship, but also their very souls. The story begins with the news that, almost ten years after the crime, the fake Picasso they replaced the real one with is in danger of being discovered. The beautiful Jessica visits the narrator/lawyer James at his office in order to see what trouble they might be in, and the story flashes back and forth in time, also following the present narrative as they figure out whether they can save themselves.
Humming with intellectual energy and grace, The Night Climbers portrays people at their most impressionable, when the intensity of early relationships stand to define their lives forever. Seductive and sinister, The Night Climbers is an exciting debut by a talented young writer.
Although clearly the work of a writer relatively young in years, The Night Climbers hits many notes firmly on key. The plot takes many twists, some more unexpected than others and, overall, rises above the potentially clichéd setting and premise to deliver a seductive and at times sinister tale. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Publishers Weekly blog - Bethanne Patrick
Ivo Stourton does not succeed stunningly out of the gate; his reach exceeds his grasp. But that's what heaven's for, as well as second books. The Night Climbers is not a terrific novel, but parts of it are terrific reads -- and Stourton is definitely an author to watch.
Book Page - Meredith McGuire
The pace of The Night Climbers is quick, electric and endlessly engaging. Despite a few missteps that present momentary hiccups in an otherwise compelling story, Stourton knowingly encapsulates the world of the privileged, the devastatingly pretty and the eternally youthful. With it, he presents both the hubris that leads to their downfall and the magnetism that allows others to willfully leap after them.
Tightly sprung and compulsively readable
The Observer (UK)
An amazingly accomplished debut... the writing is elegant, the story decadent.
The Independant (UK)
Loved The Line of Beauty, mooned over Brideshead, lapped up The Secret History? Then this one's for you.... Stourton really can write. Okay, he sometimes writes a little bit too much - there's an occasional pile-up of metaphors, a crush of adjectives - but which first-time novelist avoids that trap?
Stourton's writing seduces the reader as much as James is seduced by the Night Climbers. We will eagerly await this author’s second novel.
The novel juggles too many story lines to sustain the suspense needed for such a complicated tale. Still, Stourton is a name to watch.
I love this book. So exhilarating, authentic and vivid. It made me want to become a Cambridge student all over again.
the second oldest university in
the English-speaking world, is
located in the East of England.
It is said that it was
established by a group of
scholars in the early 13th
century who left Oxford (which
was established in the 11th
century) after two of their
number were accused of murdering
a local and hung by town
authorities. Today, Cambridge
consists of 31 colleges, of
which three are all-female; the
last all-male college, Magdalene
(pronounced maudlin), started to
admit women in 1988. In 2007 the
influential Times Higher
Education Supplement ranked
Cambridge as the fourth best
university overall in the world
after Harvard, Stanford and the
University of California at
Berkeley - but first in the
An ivy league murder, a mysterious coded manuscript and the secrets of a Renaissance prince collide memorably in this debut novel, that weaves together suspense and scholarship, high art and unimaginable treachery.
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