Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Librarian's Pick of the Week: The Various

Title: The Various
Author: Steve Augarde
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2004
Age: 12+

Synopsis: While staying on her uncle's rundown farm in the Somerset countryside, twelve-year-old Midge discovers that she has a special connection to the Various, a tribe of "strange, wild--and sometimes deadly" fairies struggling to maintain their existence in the nearby woods.

Review: In this inventive and unusual fantasy, Midge, 11, is staying on her uncle's farm while her violinist mother is on tour. She is drawn into a disused barn by the "sound" of words inside her head-the voice of a small winged horse, one of the fairy folk, or "the Various," as they call themselves. She becomes involved in their dramas and adventures as she tries to ensure that their Forest, which her uncle plans to sell to a developer, remains safe for them to live in. Augarde's fairies are very much of this world: concrete and well realized in all of their physical details, down to their tattered clothes made from scraps of fabric. The climactic scene is exciting, and the one in which one of the Various shoots an arrow into the gigantic and fierce farmyard cat and kills it is powerfully visceral. There is an air of contrivance in the story's resolution, however, as it is through events in the adult world of Midge's family that the Forest is saved. This is somewhat anticlimactic, as the efforts of the Various to save themselves turn out to have been unnecessary. Midge's character is clearly delineated, but other human characters are less well developed. The strength of the novel lies in the sense of atmosphere, and the portrayal of the fairy characters, particularly Pegs, the winged horse. - School Library Journal

If you're intrigued, don't forget to check our library's catalog for this book!


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