A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
First of all Congratulations to Michelle Harrison for winning the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize with her debut novel The 13 Treasures. I was lucky enough to have been given a copy of the book before it was released (have I made it clear how much I love my job yet???) and I raced through it almost immediately. The beautiful cover (see a blog post about it here) drew me in straight away and I was hooked from the start.
Tanya can see fairies, she has the second sight. Her problem is that the fairies aren’t all sparkly and glittery and waving golden dust around willy nilly… they’re mean and nasty and actually a bit violent. At the start of the book Tanya has written in her diary all about seeing the fairies and despite having buried the diary in the garden, the fairies have found it, dug it up and they’re furious. Her punishment is to be suspended from the ceiling and when she pulls the light fitting and half the ceiling down, her mother reaches the end of her tether and packs her off to her grandmothers house. What a rollicking start!
The story takes off from there with vividly drawn characters like Mad Morag who lives in a caravan in the woods, Amos a crotchety old man who lives in her grandmother’s house and Red, a girl who appears with a strange baby. And for all us dog-loving foxes there’s Oberon, Tanya’s slightly overweight, troublesome Doberman. After Tanya sees a strange girl in the woods and finds a newspaper cutting detailing the disappearance of a local girl fifty years before, a mystery ensues. With Fabian, the gardeners son, Tanya begins to discover what happened all those years ago and how the case is still affecting her and those around her.
There is just so much jam packed into this novel that it would take me a novel length review to tell you about them… it’s a busy book. There are so many things to love here – the strange and wonderful fairy creatures, which are based more on the gothic idea of gargoyles than Peaseblossom, the fabulous old Manor house where Tanya’s grandmother lives with it’s hidden doors and passageways, and the twists and turns of a very intriguing story.
I am delighted to say that there are a few strands left open at the end and it seems they’ll be picked up in a planned sequel – yay! I shall be hoping to get my hands on an early copy of that.