This is a quietly told, genre-bending novella, unravelled through the voice and imagination of a nine-year-old boy called William. On a family holiday to Malta to visit her parents, his mother suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma. In the soupy claustrophobia of a Mediterranean summer, William is left without the comfort of his mother to navigate the grief of his grandparents and his difficult relationship with his father. Running parallel to the main narrative is the consoling fantasy story of Vermillion, a young boy from a distant land, made up by his mother. This imaginative universe mirrors the real world, giving texture and depth to William’s darker thoughts and emotions. Although it’s an imperfect piece of writing in many ways, this book is ultimately a sensitively told tale about the redemptive power of storytelling.