Welcome to my stop on the Into the Faerie Hill blog tour! Huge thanks to Pushkin Children’s for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Pushkin Children’s
Publication Date: 02/03/2023
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Middle Grade | Fantasy
As soon as Alfred arrives at his granny’s cottage, he feels like he’s being watched. There are steep cliffs and dark forests all around, teeming with unfamiliar life – even odd little faerie creatures only Alfred can see. When free-spirited Saga bursts into his life, he begins to appreciate the beauty of these places that have always scared him.GoodReads
But this special world is under threat: Alfred’s dad is working on a project to dig a giant tunnel through the landscape for a motorway. As he joins Saga in the community protests against the plan, Alfred draws ever closer to the strange world of the faerie creatures, following a thread that seems to be leading him deep into secrets from his family’s past.
I first discovered Norup’s writing with her wonderful book, The Hungry Ghost which opened my eyes to how far children’s books or ‘middle grade’ fiction has come since I was a child. So, when I was approached to take part in the blog tour for Norup’s latest work I just couldn’t say no!
The novel was a wonderful, magical adventure but one that didn’t shy away from difficult issues and situations for kids to navigate. Our protagonist, is 12-year-old Alfred, who has never found a place where he belongs. Never staying in one place too long, he has always been the outsider in school, only ever feeling at peace in the water, alone. However, all that changes when his father’s job takes him back to his Granny’s house with the strange wood carvings that have haunted his dreams since he can remember.
I really loved following Alfred as he navigates being back ‘home’ and the conflict it brings around his late mother, here, he is even more aware of his mother’s absence but yet he knows it’s here where he will be able to learn more about her. I also liked seeing how Alfred interacted with his Granny and, his first friend, Saga. Although both Alfred and Saga are ‘outsiders’ or perceived as the ‘weird’ children, it was great to see how they were entirely different and had very unique personalities. Norup’s characterisations are always a joy to read, however here it seemed even more important to be able to get it right, to show the readers that it’s okay to be an individual and how that can look. Also, even though his appearances are fairly short, I loved the relationship between Alfred and his Dad and the conversations they have with each other: it was just so wholesome to see and endeared me to Alfred even more.
The way that the magic and fantastical blended in with the real world, especially how they were combined with the issue of land being destroyed to make way for a tunnel, was beautifully interwoven. I really appreciated the way that Norup incorporates fairytales, ‘old wives tales’ and superstitions so casually throughout the story too. By doing this, the story, and the world, felt real despite the faerie creatures as there were so many aspects that made me think of superstitions or people that I’ve encountered which aren’t too dissimilar from those in the story. As a reader, you can really tell how much of herself and her own experiences of so many beautiful locations Norup has drawn upon to create this world making it feel both familiar and surreal.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way Norup introduces such important issues, such as the environment, to kids in a way that both demonstrates the seriousness of the situation, how there isn’t a ‘magical’ fix, and yet, empowers the reader that not all hope is lost and anyone can make a positive impact. This isn’t something that is just left to the adults to solve, in fact, anyone can make a difference in a variety of ways which is also shown in the novel. The same can also be said for the presentation of complicated family relationships and family secrets, too. Whilst many people want to do what they can to protect their children from having to face these issues, it highlights how important it is to give kids the tools, and attention to their thoughts, to encourage them to fearlessly live and embrace the future.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this book and all of the concepts and themes that were explored. Norup has, once again, written a wonderful story that will appeal to so many readers and inspire the love of reading in so many kids.
About the Author
H. S. Norup is the award-winning author of The Hungry Ghost and The Missing Barbegazi—a Sunday Times Book of the Year in 2018. She grew up in Denmark, where she devoured fairy tales and escaped into books. After living in six different countries, she now lives in Switzerland and writes stories inspired by her travels, set in the borderlands between the real and imaginary worlds. When she’s not writing or reading, she spends her time outdoors either skiing, hiking, swimming or taking photos.