Monday, 9 March 2009

The Thirteen Treasures / Michelle Harrison

Summary - While visiting her grandmother's house, an old photograph leads Tanya to an unsolved mystery. Fifty years ago a girl vanished in the woods nearby - a girl Tanya's grandmother will not speak of. Fabian, the caretaker's son, is tormented by the girl's disappearance. His grandfather was the last person to see her alive, and has lived under suspicion ever since. Together, Tanya and Fabian decide to find the truth. But Tanya has her own secret: the ability to see fairies. And, after disturbing an intruder in the night, it emerges that someone else shares her ability ...The manor's sinister history is about to repeat itself ...

Review - Tanya is an average twelve year old with one exception - she's got the second sight. This means she can see faeries, usually ugly, squat creatures that torment her with mischievous acts. After another Tanya versus faeries incident goes awry, her mother (having had enough) sends Tanya to stay with her cold grandmother at Elvesden Manor.

This debut effort won the UK's Waterstone's Prize and is a great little read. The plot was a little uneven at times but the adventures of Tanya and Fabian in investigating the disappearance of Morwenna Bloom was vastly entertaining. There is a mystery that involves both of their families, a boatload of magic and a lot of intrigue. While the narrative is nicely wrapped up and can be considered self-contained, there is definitely a lot of room to pursue a series here. I really enjoyed the idea that faeries are plentiful in our world and usually with evil motivations and a lot of hate. These faeries are a far cry from Tinkerbell, clapping in this book will only serve to incite a biting incident.

Tanya is very isolated from humans in this novel. Her mother dumps her with her old, frosty grandmother, cantankerous groundskeeper and his precocious and supremely annoying son, Fabian. Yet Tanya's whole world is tolerating and surviving the ever presence of faeries that refuse to leave her alone. The story is grim and grotty - the odours and grot that permeate this book are always felt by the reader. There is a definite atmosphere that has been created with expertise.

I really enjoyed this novel, it took awhile to get going but once it did I was captivated. It's a little darker than one might expect but I suspect that's why kids would like it. It doesn't condescend or talk down to the read, instead creates well rounded characters, a vivid setting and an intriguing plot.

Definitely worth the read if only for the mention of a faerie hunter!

Publisher: April 1 2009
Format: Paperback, 326 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Origin: UK
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Christopher Gibbs talking about his work on the cover

**This is the third book with faeries I have read yet there has been not one unicorn or zombie novel come my way. Does that make me an automatic, unintentional member of Team Faerie?

5 comments:

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

There's going to be a sequel next year. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

H said...

I didn't know about the sequel! I wasn't completely sold on this book though. There just seemed too much of an inbalance between the adults and the kids.

Liz said...

Michelle is such a nice girl - I liked the novel and I think the second one will be even better - this time she has the support of S&S and a professional editor 24/7 so it is going to be even better.

Am hoping to find out more about how the dad became the Faerie Hunter...

Lenore said...

I'm intrigued. I may just have to check this out!

Steph Su said...

This looks great. Thanks for the review! I'm going to see if I can find this book somewhere.