The Wild Folk Rising

I requested and received a copy of this free from the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

The Wild Folk Rising by Sylvia Linsteadt, cover art by Sandra Dieckmann

The Wild Folk was one of my favourite books of last year (you can read my review of it here) and I was so excited for this second, and final, installment of The Stargold Chronicles.

It was well worth the wait, I loved it and I’m already looking forward to re-reading them both back to back.

If you enjoyed the first book, you’ll enjoy this immensely too. If you haven’t yet read the first book, stop reading this and go and start reading that straight away!

In this second installment we rejoin Tin, Comfrey and the hares Mallow and Myrtle as they race to save Farrallone from the Brothers’ greed.

I loved the way this opened. In fact, I thought both the start and end of this were excellent.

There’s no slow build, long recap or drawn out reunions. There’s enough as we go along to recall book 1, but we are straight back into the action with a dead Brother, a daring and deadly escape and the start of a seemingly impossible mission crossing Farallone via the underworld and the very highest mountain tops.

And the tension, drama and danger keep going right to the end. There’s no gradual resolution, no light at the end of the tunnel as you pass the halfway point. If anything, things get harder and harder until the very end.

I loved this about it. There’s no simple solutions or happy coincidences. There are risks and deals and consequences; there are bargains and gambles and backs against the wall.

Accordingly then, and as with the first book, the story is steeped in folklore, myth and fairytale influences. And, just as Baba Itha’s scene stole the show for me in the first book, it was the First Bobcat’s dealings in the Underworld that I loved best in this for its truly dark, fairytale feel.

On top of this, it is a book which positively glows with wonder at the natural world. Don’t let that be mistaken for gushing, flowery prose though. This is a book that understands the, well, wildness of that world, and it demands respect for it.

There are some beautiful, fantastic and awe inspiring scenes (the flock of birds!), as well as some really heartbreaking ones which should serve as a warning to all of us about the way we treat others, the impact of power and greed and being reckless with nature’s resources.

We meet many old characters, both good and bad – I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say there’s a terrific reappearance of Father Ralstein.

And there are wonderful new faces too – I especially loved Rupert and Oswald, and was so pleased to see a gay couple in an MG book not as a ‘token’ or an ‘issue’ but just there as lovely characters playing their part in the story, whilst ever so subtly making a point about prejudice.

This book is a fantastic adventure in a magical place that all the while mirrors our own. It deals with many timely issues, primarily but not exclusively environmental, in a non-confrontational way which nevertheless forces the reader to consider our own world, its past and, most importantly, its future.

Pacy, dramatic and dark at times but with friendship, hope and nature’s wonders bringing balance, this is one of my standout books of the year so far, just as book one was last year. This series is truly something special.

WWW Wednesday 28/5/19

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday’:

What are you currently reading?

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (cover art pictured by Laura Ellen Anderson)

I am gulping down the Tiffany Aching books.
This one seems to take on slightly older, grittier subjects and tone, but that makes sense when you consider Tiffany has been getting older and wiser and more experienced throughout the books and is now 16 and a pretty accomplished witch. I’m very much enjoying it regardless.

The Nowhere Emporium by Ross McKenzie (eBook)

I’ve been meaning to read this for years, and actually have a paper copy of it on my shelf but the sequel is out and I still haven’t read it so I’ve got the eBook from the library to try and finally catch up! I’ve only read the first couple of pages but I get the feeling from. The writing style and opening that I’m going to enjoy it…

What have you just finished reading?

Wild Folk Rising by Sylvia Linsteadt, cover art by Sandra Dieckmann

I loved the first Stargold Chronicles book last year (my review of that one is here) so had such high hopes for this and it more than lived up to them. I loved this so much and as a pair of books to read one after the other, even better. I’ll post a full review soon, but honestly this book just had everything, it was wonderful.

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy, cover art by George Ermos (eBook)

I know everyone loves this and raves about it, it’s going on the Unrateable shelf here though. I’m sorry! It was an enjoyable enough read and I can see why it’s so popular but it just didn’t really do it for me.

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (cover art pictured by Laura Ellen Anderson)

While I did enjoy this, I think it was my least favourite of the Tiffany Aching books so far. Although maybe that has something to do with reading all about winter in the middle of summer, I’m not sure.

What will you read next?

Audio

The Shepherd’s Crown – the last of the Tiffany Aching books.

E-book

Murder Most Unladylike. I seem to have been saying I’m reading this next for ages – I had it reserved from the library but then saw they had it on audio so cancelled my eBook reservation in favour of that. But then Tiffany Aching took over on audio, so I’m back waiting for the eBook of this! It should be available by the time I finish the Nowhere Emporium.

Physical copy

I am just about to start No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton.

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

WWW Wednesday 8/5/19

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday’:

What are you currently reading?

Wild Folk Rising by Sylvia Linsteadt, cover art by Sandra Dieckmann

I have been SO looking forward to this after loving book one last year (my review of that one is here) I started it last night and stepped straight back into Farallone. At the moment, though I know danger lurks, there’s a real feeling of comfort and excitement to be back. If you missed book one, make sure you read it now – it was a real favourite of mine from last year.

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (cover art pictured by Laura Ellen Anderson)

I’ve just moved straight onto this from The Wee Free Men (see below) today and am enjoying it immensely already.

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy, cover art by George Ermos (eBook)

OK, I haven’t actually got further than opening this up on my library app but I’m excited to finally be getting round to reading it!

What have you just finished reading?

Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll (eBook)

This was an enjoyable read, I really liked the supernatural theme and as always from Emma Carroll the historical nature of the book felt spot on, really believable and as if you’re in it. I was less keen on the romantic slant of the book though, and didn’t like the narrator’s obsession with Kit. Overall, I enjoyed this but not as much as the other books I’ve read by Emma Carroll.

The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble (paperback)

I loved Bren MacDibble’s How to Bee (you can read my review of it here) and I really enjoyed this too. One of the things that really stood out for me was how engrossing the book was with just two main characters journeying across an almost deserted land, which is vividly described. There’s strong themes of family and the environment and it’s a really cleverly balanced, absorbing book.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (cover art pictured by Laura Ellen Anderson)

I was struggling to find audiobooks I wanted to read from my library app so caved, bought some more audible credit and started on the Tiffany Aching books.

It’s years (at least decade but that makes me feel very old!) since I read Discworld but I used to absolutely love them and have been planning to go back to them and re-read them for ages. I always see the Tiffany Aching books in work too and think “I really must read them” so that’s where I’ve started.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Pratchett’s trademark dry, clever and observant humour runs through it. The Nac Mac Feegles are brilliant, Tiffany is a hugely likeable and relatable main character and my heart positively leapt when Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg made an appearance! I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

What are you planning on reading next?

Audio

I love that I can download audiobooks from my library but I’m going to have to get much more organised at reserving them in plenty of time as so many of those I tried are on loan! I have Murder Most Unladylike and the Finn Family Moomintroll reserved so they’ll be up soon, til then I’m working through the Tiffany Aching books.

E-book

I’ve only just started Brightstorm, so it’ll be a while before I’m ready for a new one. I might try another Emma Carroll (The Girl Who Walked on Air is a string contender) but who knows – by then I might have found something that I must put straight to the top of the pile!

Physical copy

Nosy Crow very kindly sent me a proof of Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton so that’s jumped to the top of my TBR, especially after being so highly recommended by Amy over at Golden Books Girl!

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

WWW Wednesday 1/5/19

I’ve had something of a blog slump recently but I figured WWW Wednesday would be a good way to kick off again. And my review of Rumblestar is going up tomorrow to so I’m back with a bang!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday’:

What are you currently reading?

Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll (eBook)

Well, it’s not exactly seasonal but I’ve kept saying I’m going to read the earlier Emma Carroll books I’ve not read yet sbd I’m waiting for either Brightstorm or Murder Most Unladylike to become available from the library, so I’ve chosen this in the meantime.

I’m only a couple of chapters in but I’m enjoying it, I think Emma Carroll is such a talented writer. I always find her books to be so well pitched, always with such a feel of the time and place they’re set in and a great balance between history, friendship and adventure. This one looks to be no different.

The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble (paperback)

I loved Bren MacDibble’s How to Bee (you can read my review of it here) so I was really excited about this and so far I’m loving it.

Like How to Bee, it takes on an environmental issue – fast forwarding into the not at all distant future to create a dystopia where the worst has happened. In this case there’s no more grass left, it’s been killed by a fungus, and food is increasingly scarce.

It’s the characters that make it though – realistic, believable and loveable, they inject a bleak outlook with hope.

08 have you just finished reading?

A Witch Come True by James Nicol (ebook)

No surprises here, but a satisfying and enjoyable ending to the trilogy!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling (audiobook read by Stephen Fry.)

I’ve finished my Harry Potter audio book re-read! It’s been wonderful to revisit Hogwarts and The Burrow, Honeydukes and Hagrid’s hut – like being back amongst friends. There’ve been surprises along the way (some lovely, some less so – Fred!) and plenty I’d completely forgotten about. I have to admit there’s all sorts of things that wouldn’t have bothered me first time round that were a little irksome this time – I could go a while without reading about anyone’s eyes twinkling or anyone gliding anywhere and all the relationship dramas in Goblet of Fire can do one. BUT I still loved them. I’m still looking forward to reading them with Peapod (what better excuse to buy the gorgeous illustrated hardbacks!) and I don’t know quite what to do with myself now I’m done!

The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher, illustrated by Sam Usher

I’ll review this in the coming week or two. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, but I think that it was very different to what I was expecting and I’d rather got my hopes up for it. I’d definitely still recommend it – I know some readers will love this, but it didn’t end up being my sort of book. Enjoyable but not mind blowing!

What are you planning on reading next?

Audio

I love that I can download audiobooks from my library but I’m going to have to get much more organised at reserving them in plenty of time as so many of those I tried are on loan! But I have reserved Murder Most Unladylike and the Moomins for now! Open to suggestions though!

E-book

It’ll be a while before I finish Frost Hollow Hall and I did have Murder Most Unladylike lined up next, but I’m going to go for the audiobook of that instead and read Brightstorm as an eBook. I think…!

Physical copy

I was lucky enough to beg a copy of The Wild Folk Rising from the lovely Stevie at Usborne so that has gone straight yo the top of my pile! I loved the first Wild Folk book last year (you can read my review of it here) and have been eagerly awaiting book 2!

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

The Wild Folk

9781474934985

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Do any bookworms actually follow this advice? I know (following a recent #banterwithbooksellers over on twitter) that myself and many of my fellow booksellers definitely do not, instead “Magpie Reading” (term coined by Ceris!) – homing in on those books with beautiful/intriguing/unusual covers. And that was definitely the case with Sylvia Linsteadt’s ‘The Wild Folk’.

As soon as this appeared on my trolley for shelving, I felt that Magpie at work: the cover is gorgeous. But this is no surprise when you find out it was designed by Sandra Dieckmann, creator of ‘Leaf‘. As with the illustrations in Leaf, the cover of The Wild Folk is bursting with life, and as with Leaf, as well as being a fantastic, folklore-style adventure The Wild Folk also contains a pretty stark message about the importance of looking after our ‘wild world’.

In the land of Farallone, City boy Tin and Country girl Comfrey are guided on a quest by two young hares.

Their task is to save the mystical Wild Folk from destruction. But the Wild Folk don’t trust humans, and the children face impossible challenges and meet extraordinary creatures as they battle to save the land they love.

There is SO much I want to say about this book I don’t know where to begin. I suppose the first thing to say before I get into the story in detail is that it inevitably draws comparisons to other books/characters, particularly in the fantasy realm (there is more than a hint of Narnia with a definite Aslan-ness to the Elk of Milk and Kindness, and I’ve seen many references to Le Guin’s Earthsea…which ok, I admit, I still haven’t read…*hides in a corner*). Similarly, there are some all-too familiar scenarios here: a missing father, main characters who must learn to overcome their differences to work together and trust each other, an orphan who doesn’t remember his parents living in a home run by the strict and cruel Brothers of Albion…

But, and it’s an important ‘but’, they are unique enough, important enough to the story and well-written enough to avoid cliché, and there is enough about the story which is entirely new and original to balance out the areas that tread some familiar ground. For me, this is huge in showing the promise of a book that will not only be a thoroughly enjoyable read, but one that will stand both the test of time and multiple re-readings, and I think the Wild Folk (and it’s sequel – due in Spring ’19) will do just that.

Cleverly beginning by switching between our City-dwelling hero Tin and his (in no way mousey) Country-mouse counterpart Comfrey before gradually bringing their stories closer and closer together, until they meet and their stories merge worked incredibly well.

Firstly, this provided an opportunity to really get to know our main characters – both Tin and Comfrey, and Myrtle and Mallow: the two leverets sent to aid them on their quest. All are incredibly likeable without being at all flat, and very much bringing their own qualities, personalities and voices to the story.

It also served brilliantly to delve into the background of City and Country and show the differences in lifestyle and beliefs between the places. As with the characters, each place has a distinct feel to it and each world is built wonderfully (as are the various places the children travel through around Farallone on their quest): there is a dark and grimy, almost steam-punk feel to the City which contrasts superbly with the wholesome, old-fashioned feel of the Country.

Through this, it is impossible to ignore the messages that run through the book, both environmental and social: the devastating effect ‘Fake News'(to use some much more modern terminology!), segregation and fear of differences can have, not to mention the devastating effect humans can – and do – have on the wild. With City, Country and Wild folk all mistrusting and judging each other, pre-conceived ideas and must be addressed in order to save Farallone.

The book has more than a touch of folklore and fairytale magic to it (it has a map, which is always a promising start!). Upon encountering the word ‘tatterdemalion’ (what a wonderful word it is too!) I needed to look it up and found that Linsteadt also has an adult novel with the same title which is also firmly rooted in myth and legend: she clearly has a passion for it and a writing style that is more than up to the task if The Wild Folk is anything to go by (watch this space for a review of Tatterdemalion at some point!).

There is the story of Farallone itself – the legend which provides the backbone of the book, then there are smaller tales-within-the-tale passed down through generations of country/wild folk. The story itself encompasses many characters and events which feel like they’ve stepped straight out of a folk tale or fable – The Greentwins are a case in point – as well as deliberate re-imaginings: the chapter on the Baba Ithá was one of my favourite parts in the whole book – loved it, LOVED IT, LOVED IT!

Highly recommended for older MG readers (or those who enjoy a longer, more challenging read), as well as adults and older readers who enjoy a healthy dose of folklore in their reading, this is a highly original, incredibly well-drawn fantasy adventure. With Grizzly Witches, underground networks and mechanical spiders, Fools and their Oddities and a stunning setting brilliantly described this is a fantastic story not to be missed.

Thanks to Usborne for my review copy.