Saturday, February 16, 2013

Thirteen Treasures, The by Michelle Harrison


The Thirteen Treasures is a charming, fast-paced adventure story concerning one of my favourite fictional subjects: faeries. It won the Waterstone’s Childen’s Book Prize a few years back but has been off my radar until now – I don’t think it really took off in Australia as it did elsewhere. But it is a great read. It is interesting and intriguing, and the faerie lore, although a big part of the plot, never overwhelms the book. There are many adventures to have in the big old mansion with secret passageways, and the quaint village nearby, and the creepy, faerie-infested woods, and the faeryielore is wound into it all seamlessly.

I love the setting and the atmosphere Harris creates, and how little sub-plots or the next few clues are revealed every few chapters or so. This is what keeps the pages turning, and I thought the pacing was quite terrific and the writing very easy to read and escape into. I think it is written with a great knowledge of what holds children’s attention.

Faeries (the Celtic folklore-ish kind) are one of my fictional favourites when it comes to kid’s books. I have my own folders and books all about the  numerous beasties and faeries from British, Irish and Scottish folklore, and so I love it when I recognize the source material authors are working from. I really enjoyed Harris’ collection of household boggarts and the lore associated with them. She also manages to create some genuinely creepy, scary moments, which is offset throughout the book with lovely, subtle humour.

A big part of the book’s intrigue comes from most of the main human characters having hidden secrets, and the way these are teased out.  My only niggle was that I felt a few things came together all too easily near the end.

The Thirteen Treasures series (will read the next two soon) would be a great addition to a school library. They are perfect for a late primary audience.

First published in 2009 by Little, Brown

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