I really hope our buyer will keep sending us books like this for feedback!
It was the perfect read to curl up on the couch with, when it's dark and cold outside. At least, that's how I enjoyed it.
It tells the story of Tanya, a girl with the ability (or the curse, if she was to say it) to see fairies. This is a constant cause for troubles, so much that one day her mother loses her patience, after a disaster that she (and the fairies) have caused, and decides to send her away to her grandmother. Tanya hates being with her grandmother in her old manor in the country, and it seems that her grandmother feels the same way about her being there. But there's no discussing it. She will have to spend two weeks with the grumpy old woman, the even grumpier groundskeeper Warwick, and his nerdy, awkward son Fabian.
But she doesn't have time to get bored. As soon as she arrives strange things start to happen.
The big house, and the woods nearby have secrets. About a girl who went missing fifty years before, about secret passages never discovered, about Tanya's grandmother's past...
Who is the girl that Tanya and Fabian meet in the woods? And why is she identical to the photo of the missing girl? What are the strange howling sounds that come from the walls? And why the fairies don't want her to go into the woods?
So many questions for a mystery that has a delicious Gothic feel, entangled beautifully with fairy folklore.
It's true, there's is a lot going on. I haven't even mentioned Mad Morag, the "crazy" woman who lives in a caravan in the woods. Or Red, the mysterious girl who Tanya finds in the tunnels of the house. Or the tricks that the fairy keep playing on Tanya.
There isn't a dull moment in this story. There's always something that makes you turn the page quickly, to find out what's happening. At the end everything comes together in a surprising, completely satisfying revelation.
This is a great debut for Michelle Harrison. A very enjoyable and entertaining story for anyone who loves fairy lore, Gothic novels and a bit of mystery.
The only thing I'd like to point out is about the title. It's not related to what the story is about, except marginally. I kept waiting for the thirteen treasures to have a key role in the game, but they don't. Unless they will in the sequel, which I will definitely read!
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Q: First of all, can you explain why "Thirteen treasures"? As far as I could tell, the bracelet wasn't the main part of the story, although it was symbolic of fairy lore. Is it going to be more important in the sequel?
A: Yes, the bracelet will feature more prominently in the sequel. There were a number of titles I discussed with my agent before we submitted to publishers, and The Thirteen Treasures was the one that appealed most. Although it's not the main part of the story, an important theme of the book is consequence, and how past actions and events affect the present and other people. As the Thirteen Treasures relates to an old legend that links with how Tanya has her ability of second sight, this seemed an apt title.
Q: I've read that you've done your own illustrations at the beginning of every chapter. They are lovely. Have you ever thought of doing a picture book? or maybe to do full page illustrations for your next books?
Q: On your website you say that if the book was ever made into a movie,you'd like Warwick to be played by Dougray Scott and Florence by Vanessa Redgrave. Do you have anyone in mind for Tanya and Fabian?
Q: Without revealing anything about the plot and the solution to the mystery, can you tell us how you came up with the idea and whether it was formed since the beginning? Everything is laid little by little as if carefully planned and then all the strings come together at the end. Was is hard to keep all these story-lines together?
Q: Is the sequel going to follow Tanya back at home or will it still be set in Elvesden? How is it going?
Yay! I'm really happy to hear this, I really liked Red as a character.
Q: How do you find the time to write? Are you still working full time now in publishing?
Q: I've seen your recommendations for picture books on your site and we do have similar tastes. I love Emily Gravett's work, Ayao Imai's the 108th sheep, and Antonia Barber's The Mousehole Cat, which I reviewed here. Do you have any recommendations for people who read your book and liked it?
I haven't heard of Heretic or Poison, have to go and check them out! I heard Knife is really good too, and The Various always attracted me, but I never got around it.
Thank you so much for this interview, Michelle. I wish you all the best with your next book.