An ordinary school hides an unearthly secret.
A novel by Darryl Sloan (2002)
On the surface it looks like an ordinary school, and the six hundred kids who attend it have no reason to think any different. All except one.
Trespassing late at night with criminal intent, fourteen-year-old Eddie Morton sees something he isn’t supposed to see – a sinister secret that endangers the life of every child who walks the school corridors in broad daylight; a chilling conspiracy in which even the headmaster may be implicated.
Eddie possesses only fragments of the puzzle; he must dig deeper. But where do you turn when you don’t know who to trust? How do you cope when running away holds the direst consequences? And what do you do when you discover you’re dealing with people who are not really people at all?
“Ulterior, while quite obviously inspired by the alien invasion movies of the fifties and sixties, is nonetheless a refreshingly well-handled and intelligent take on a tired theme and raises the benchmark on the Young Adult genre … We find ourselves on an exhilarating quest as Eddie and his friends are forced to journey beneath the school to confront a malignant force that threatens not only the children, but the world. It is an old idea but one that Sloan reinvents and embraces with the talent of a true wordsmith. His passion for his surroundings and the children themselves makes the world of Ulterior lift off the page. Classed as a novel for young adults, it works far beyond that mark and could quite possibly be one of the best novels I have read so far this year. The secret to the success of this book is that Sloan does not talk down to his intended audience or force them to believe in one-dimensional characters. Instead, he has set a beautiful story in a very real place (Sloan is himself a teacher) and draws on his own experience with children to throw all manner of dangers their way. In short, I am going to go into town to buy myself a hat so that I’ll have something to eat if this novel isn’t a runaway success. Faintly reminiscent of Laymon’s The Traveling Vampire Show, Ulterior is a stunning novel from an up-and-coming writer who may someday be looking down on us all from the bestseller lists. An excellent read. Highly recommended.”
– Kealan Patrick Burke [author of The Turtle Boy]
“I couldn’t put the book down and completed it in one sitting. This book is that good … Ulterior is Darryl Sloan’s first novel and it is an incredible debut. Sloan pulls you into the story with lively dialogue, rich characterization and a plot that is truly unpredictable. Eddie is a likeable character with real personality flaws and real adolescent problems … Nothing in the story turns out the way you think it’s going to and it’s these unique twists and turns that set this novel apart … Although Ulterior is classed as novel for young adults, I think that adults will enjoy it just as much. Adults will appreciate Sloan’s refreshing take on alien invasion and kids not only will identify with Eddie and his friends but will find that this will become one of their favorites. I personally can’t wait until Sloan’s next book.”
– Bella Online
“Watch out Christopher Pike! Darryl Sloan is on the scene with a thrilling adventure and a delightful look into young adulthood and coping with responsibility. Don’t be surprised to hear more from Sloan, who has the gift of getting to the very heart of the story and telling it straight. Ulterior is worth looking into if you want to discover some fresh talent.”
– Andy Fairclough’s Horror World
“The characters in the story are well-rounded, despite the youthfulness and inherent naivety of the principle children in the tale. But this, too is actually a plus point in Sloan’s favour – he’s resisted the temptation to bestow on them the worldy-wise attitudes and too-old-for-their-age personas that mar a lot of junior characters in other novels … The book is described by the author as a ‘sci-fi chiller’, which I think is an apt description – there are one or two horror-esque moments but nothing too squeamish or outright nasty, again, taking the intended audience into account … In short then, Ulterior is a cracking read that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone of suitable age – especially fans of The X-Files.”
– The Alien Online
“If you can suspend belief for a while, you are in danger of becoming thoroughly engrossed in this tale about a school with a sinister secret … I found this book very easy to get stuck into. It grabs you straight from the start, with the sinister air hanging around the seemingly innocent school. While not actually scary, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a read with lots of action and suspense, with some mystery as well.”
– Cool Reads
Buy the Book
Ulterior is presently out of print, having sold its entire first print-run of 1070 paperbacks. Second-hand copies do show up regularly on eBay.