Vulpes Libris

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.

The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison

13 treasures 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.


Read a brilliant review and interview on  My Favourite Books and visit Michelle Harrison’s website.

About Eve Harvey

Eve Harvey is a bookaholic. She is forever to be found with her nose in a book. If there are none around then newspapers, magazines, the back of cereal packets, road signs or the tiny washing labels found on the seams of jumpers will do. Eve used to have full time job as a children's bookseller and she was the very first Waterstone's Children's Expert Bookseller in Scotland. Her first love was definitely literature for children and teens, about which she has nerd-level knowledge. However she has since become involved in grown-up books and has co-written her first adult novel with Cath Murphy. Eve and Cath Podcast, blog and have far too much fun on their website Domestic Hell. Eve lives in a field just outside Edinburgh in Scotland with her daughter and son and two dogs and two rabbits. She also has some tanks of tropical fish and vows one day to start up a marine aquarium. And the day she signs her very first publishing deal she is going to celebrate by buying a pair of Horsefields tortoises. You can find Eve through her Agent, Ella Kahn at DKW Literary Agency. She's also on Twitter or on her website :

13 comments on “The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison

  1. Jenn
    February 21, 2009

    What age group do you think this book is aimed at? Would it be suitable for reading to a (quite bright) four and a half year old? Are there scary parts? Are there any illustrations?

  2. Eve
    February 21, 2009

    Hello Jenn 🙂 I would say it’s aimed at the 9-12 age group. There are some parts that might be a bit scary-ish for a 4 year old. But when I used to read books that were too old to my kids I scanned ahead and either missed them out or made things up myself to avoid the details. On saying that it might just be a bit too old for a four year old to follow all the different threads and ideas – it’s jam packed with detail.

    Interestingly, at the start of each chapter there are small drawings which I believe Michelle Harrison did herself. But they’re quite small in my copy and only at the start of the chapter.

    I think it might be a try it and see, I used to read all sorts of things to my kids when they were little especially when I wanted to get on with reading it myself and they wouldn’t give me peace 😉 If they began to get shifty, then I knew it was hopeless.

  3. Jenn
    February 21, 2009

    I think it is really important to do a bedtime story every night (or at least it is in our house) but I get so bored with the usual offerings for pre-school and reception aged children. I’d love some recommendations, if any of the foxes are expert in what to read to 4 year olds that they’ll find entertaining, but the adult won’t find utterly mind numbing. Thanks for your reply. It sounds like it might be a little too old for her, but I may just try it for my own interest, and see how it goes.

  4. Jackie
    February 21, 2009

    What a great book for kids, an adventure story that isn’t run of the mill. And what a drastically different idea of fairies, poles apart from Tinkerbell! All those different secondary characters sound intriguing & the mystery too. That is a striking cover, it almost looks 3-D. I hope the sequel lives up to this one, but it sounds like the author is a solid writer, so it should.

  5. bookchildworld
    February 21, 2009

    Jenn, try some of the classics, like The Wind in the Willows (if you haven’t already). or how about the Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton? Or the Moomins or the Wombles (the whole books, find them second hand) or Worzel Gummidge etc. Classics tended to be a bit easier to follow than nowadays’ books.
    also, Milly Molly Mandy, My Naughty Little Sister, the Ponder and William books, the Joe and Timothy books (the last 2 second hand only I expect). Also, Gobbino the Witch’s Cat, the Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse. These are all ‘old’ books, and tend to be geared to a younger audience than current children’s books, which are getting ‘older’ all the time. All are great fun.

  6. Eve
    February 22, 2009

    I would add to the suggestions above with… (you’ll regret getting me started!!!)

    I’m assuming a girl 4 year old here with you asking about a fairy book…

    The Judy Moody books by Megan McDonald

    The Witch Baby books by Debbi Gliori

    Clarice Bean by Lauren Child

    Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn

    And if I’m wrong about it being a girl, or if anyone is looking for boy suggestions…

    The Bare Bum Gang by Anthony McGowan (which is tagged all wrong on Amazon and they should really sort it out!)

    Tim the Tiny Horse by Harry Hill

    Okay… I’ll shut up now… it’s supposed to be my day off… can’t stop going on and on about books… :):):)

  7. Liz
    February 25, 2009

    Hi Eve

    Thanks so much for linking to my review of Thirteen Treasures – isn’t it wonderful that Michelle won? I am so chuffed.

    About books for younger readers – one of the others that I’ve just reviewed: How Kirsty Jenkins stole the Elephant by Elen Caldecott truly is excellent – and so funny. It was longlisted for the same award so you know it’s good!

  8. sara
    May 11, 2009

    will i think this book is good and i like the front cover and the mystery to it. and i rhink is gret book and in school i am reading this book and its goona be good i think.and i never like books i read i am going to looking to see if i like this book.
    and it looks like mystery book then a scary book. and its great for children at age of (10-13) but anyone can read it of course. and i read to my sister when i take the book home……..
    and its great that michelle won!!!!!
    think she can write aonter fantist book like that agian………….

  9. Bethan???
    October 7, 2009

    I think this book is miraculous. Michelle Harrison’s point of view from looking at the world is amazingly believable.
    I rate this book 10/10

  10. skye
    November 23, 2009

    this is one of the best books ever i can’t wait for the sequel i am so lucky that i have a copy of the first one it was so hard to find

  11. Da-Ly
    November 30, 2009

    Sometimes, I believe that the book is a little bit unhappy, in my opinion, especially with a few of those unnecessary details, but it depends as to whether or not it is unnecessary. I loved the book, overall, and it is one of the best that I’ve read in a while (I haven’t been able to find a good one since I’ve been so busy with work recently!) This one I haven’t been able to put down and I practically devoured the book nonstop- fortunately, I read the book during a National Holiday, so I’m good. And if I ever meet Michelle Harrison, I will beg her to finish the sequel as fast and best she can because I am pretty desperate for a good fix on a book, and this is a lead. (HUNTER!!! Haha!)

  12. katie
    June 23, 2010

    i love teh ideas of faeries and have loved them for soo long! i thought the book was great and re-birthed my love for faeries that i lost so long ago. i’m not sure which age group the book was aimed at but i loved it and im 16!!! LOL 🙂

  13. Charlie
    July 24, 2010

    I’m still reading, but so far, I’m freaked out. I have ALWAYS loved and wanted a book about demonic faeries….And, weirdly enough, I found one. The cover of my book is different, where there is a gate that is opened, and Tanya is going towards the woods that are forward.
    This book makes me rethink, and I hope one day maybe a movie would be made out of it, and if there is, it would be such a scary movie.
    It’s so delightfully creepy, making me want to go to a old mansion.
    I love it so far.

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This entry was posted on February 21, 2009 by in Entries by Eve and tagged , , , , , .



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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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