Sunday, 19 April 2015

11 Things I Like about 'The Dreamsnatcher' by Abi Elphinstone

1. Moll. She's mischievous, brave, loyal, pig-headed, and stubborn but with a heart of gold.
2. Gryff. Inspired by Lyra's Pantalaiman, this wildcat makes an excellent sidekick for the feisty Moll.
3. The setting. So many children's books are about epic adventures and journeys, I found the rather enclosed nature of the book's setting very refreshing. It's basically set in one forest, and the reader encounters nothing of the world outside the trees. To Moll, the forest is huuuuge, but I'm guessing it's actually not. And the world of a child can often be like that. A bed can be an island, a bedroom can be a sea, and a back garden can be a continent.
4. The Gypsies. I think this is the first novel I've read about gypsies and in this book we get a real sense of them - their beliefs, their superstitions, their clothes, their food, their music. You get to smell that camp-fire smoke! And you've got to love those names - Oak, Mooshie, Wisdom, Cinderella Bull and (my favourite) Hard-Times Bob.
5. The magic. The Dreamsnatcher is full of magic, both good and bad. The good relates to old world beliefs and superstitions but also new world eco-friendly living.  The bad magic is really scary and hangs over the novel like a dark cloud about to rain.
6. The villains. Skull is a genuinely frightening character and his malevolent presence pervades at all times. His gang of cronies and monsters are also terrifying.
7. The puzzles. If you've read any of my Code Crackers books you'll know I'm kinda fond of puzzles, so this aspect of the story was always going to be a winner for me.
8. Nature. The author's (and Moll's) love of nature seeps through the writing.
9. No technology. The Dreamsnatcher is a most welcome break from technology of any kind - a mechanical detox, if you like - no phones, computers, Twitter, cars, iPods - nothing!
10. The author. Isn't Abi Elphinstone the best name for a children's author. She seems like a cool person too.
11. The cover is brilliant, as is the map inside.

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