Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happiness is...a good book (Summer Reading edition #38)

13 Treasures
Author: Michelle Harrison
Published: 2010
Pages: 355
Age Range: 9-12
Genre: Fantasy
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG
First Sentence: She was aware of their presence in the room before she even awoke.

Tanya has always been able to see fairies. She’s tried to deal with them but every time she mentions them to anyone (or even simply writes about them in her journal) they torment her and make her life miserable. When her mother finds her in strange predicaments and Tanya offers no real explanations her mother makes her life miserable. When her mother can’t take it anymore she ships Tanya off to her grandmother’s house so they can all recoup.

Tanya and her grandmother have never really gotten along. Tanya always feels as if she’s a burden to be borne and as if she can’t do anything right. The house, a secluded and rundown countryside manor, is full of locked doors and surrounded by dark woods. Fabian, the groundskeeper’s son, is the same age and while a nuisance is her only friend. Together they get tangled in the mystery of Fabian’s grandfather, old Amos who lives upstairs, and a girl gone missing from the village many, many years ago. And then there are the babies and children that have disappeared in the last few months including one newborn from a hospital just a few days earlier. How do they all tie together and what do they have to do with Tanya?

This is a dark fantasy. Fairies and goblins aren’t Disneyfied and cute but amoral and often vindictive. There is extensive background on original fairy lore and their interactions with humans. It shouldn’t be too dark for most kids, but it definitely has a bit of a gothic chill about it. It’s well written with an old-fashioned feel to it, (think The Secret Garden but with menacing fairies) giving it a timeless quality though it is set in modern day England. Fans of The Spiderwick Chronicles will appreciate it as will those who enjoyed Fablehaven but want a bit more of the lore and like mystery rather than an adventure.

Apparently it's also the first in a trilogy.  Look for the sequels, 13 Curses and 13 Secrets as well.

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