The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt
(Simon & Schuster (UK), Little,Brown (US), 2014)

The Dynamite Room

by Jason Hewitt

July 1940. 11 year-old Lydia walks through a Suffolk village on a baking hot day. She is wearing a gas mask. The shops and houses are empty, windows boarded up and sandbags green with mildew. She strikes off down a country lane to a large Edwardian house – the house she grew up in. But Lydia finds it empty too, the windows covered in black-out blinds. Her family are gone.

Late that night he comes, a soldier, gun in hand and heralding a full-blown German invasion. There are, he explains to her, certain rules she must now abide by. He won’t hurt Lydia, but she cannot leave the house.

Is he telling the truth? What is he looking for? Why is he so familiar? And how does he already know Lydia’s name?

Eerie, thrilling and piercingly sad, The Dynamite Room evokes the great tradition of war classics yet achieves a strikingly original and contemporary resonance. Hypnotically compelling, it explores, in the most extreme of circumstances, the bonds we share that make us human.


Superb. Absorbing, suspenseful and with a beautifully poetic touch. ”
- Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall
Suspenseful and powerful. A novel of great humanity that exposes the absurd contradictions of war. ”
- Samantha Harvey, author of The Wilderness
Clever and unsettling, this most unconventional of war stories had me totally gripped. ”
- Shelley Harris, author of Jubilee
An effective psychological drama between two extraordinary characters…Claustrophobic, touching, character-driven and told in lovely prose… Readers who loved The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas will have a strong affinity with The Dynamite Room. ”
- Katie Ward, Author of Girl Reading
Hewitt has a strong sense of narrative pace [...] a very promising first novel.”
- the Observer
With its unshowy, confident prose, this novel is accomplished, resonant and surprising, and poses some delicately handled questions about whether redemption is possible, and at what point a good heart becomes forever besmirched.”
- Jill Dawson, the Guardian