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the fork of truth

A while ago I was miserably ill; in the space of two weeks our household came down with scarletina, infections and ruptured cysts. Yeah, I know: gross. So I did what I do in times of stress and reverted to comfort-reading kidlit. Have some kidlit reviews!

Twilight Robbery is the second Hardinge I've read. Frances Hardinge is one of those writers who produce glorious worldbuilding and beautiful prose with such apparent effortlessness that it makes you want to curl up in a corner and abandon writing forever. Frances Hardinge WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD? I didn't like Twilight Robbery as much as Face Like Glass, but that's mostly because the latter involves one of the best twists on Fairyland EVER.

What I did like about Robbery was the thieves' cant, and the sense of Victorian-Underworld-meets-Fantasyland, as well as the playing with the tropes around Light and Dark and Damsels In Distress.

I also noticed something rather awesome about both of her books that I have read: THEY ARE ALL ABOUT REVOLUTIONS.

Have some quotes. Because the prose is just SO PRETTY.

"'Just between you and me,' Mosca whispered, 'radicalism is all about walkin' on the grass.'"

-Frances Hardinge, Twilight Robbery.

"'To be young is to be powerless, but to have delusions of power. To believe that one can really change things, make the world better and simpler in good and simple ways. To grow old is to realise that nobody is ever good, nothing is ever simple. That truth is cruel at first, but finally comforting.'

...Clent was right...And yet her bones screamed that he was also wrong, utterly wrong. 'But sometimes things are simple. Just now and then. Just like now and then people are good.'

'Yes...I know. Innocent people force one to remember that. For you see, there is a cruelty in all innocence.'"

-Frances Hardinge, Twilight Robbery.

Sometimes Eva Ibbotson's stuff can be a bit 'uh-oh, sickly-sweet' or CLASS ISSUES, but other times she gets it just right, and The Abominables is one of those times. It is about Yetis who are just TOO NICE FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. They apologise to the grass every time they eat it, and everyone is like 'OH NOES THE WORLD WILL DOOMZ U.' Because people are Not Very Nice, and the world is not a happy place.

But because it is a kids book, there is hope in the form of REVOLUTIONARY SCHOOLCHILDREN and all the truck drivers going on strike to petition the Queen. At the end there is a giant party, during which convent schoolgirls go skinny-dipping in the Serpentine, and Eva Ibbotson is like 'Hey, it's a party, what can you do?' XD

I had mixed feelings about A Tale of Time City. On the one hand, I always enjoy DWJs traumatised-yet-sensible, child heroes. But on the other, Prester John just seems.. like a total douche. As do the Time Lady and most of the rest of Time City. Even Sam and Johnathan are kind of jerks. It made me want to kidnap Vivian and Elio and send them to one of DWJs nicer worlds.

West of the Moon, by Katherine Langrish, won my heart on account of VIKINGS AND FAERIES! Two of my favourite things in one book! I kind of assumed from the title that it was going to be another retelling of East of the Sun, West of The Moon. BUT NO, the title refers to DISCOVERING AMERICA. So that was cool. Katherine Langrish writes my favourite kind of faeries: grounded in folklore and somehow both believable and eminently other. I enjoyed seeing traditional stories woven into that of the protagonist and his coming-of-age journey, which was unusual, because it was actually three coming-of-age stories: set at 13, 15 and 17, and seeing the protagonist growing up was lovely. The only thing that could have been better was the transition to a different POV character two-thirds of the way through, which jarred a little. I also liked the subversion of the poetic blonde hero being a TOTAL PSYCHO. Mostly because, reading the sagas, I get the feeling that the discovery of Vinland was full of golden-haired poetic psychos.

Finally, I reread Peter Pan, which I am too sleepy to talk about coherently, so have some intersex!faeries and MorallyAmbiguous!Pan quotes instead:

"The mauve ones are boys and the white ones are girls, and the blue ones are just little sillies who are not sure what they are."

"he always waited till the last moment, and you felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of human life. Also he was fond of there was always the possibility that he would let you go."

"The difference between him and the other boys at such a time is that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same."

"Sometimes, though not often, he had dreams, and they were more painful than the dreams of other boys. For hours he could not be separated from these dreams, though he wailed piteously. They had to do, I think, with the riddle of his existence."

"He often went out alone, and when he came back, you were never absolutely certain whether he had had an adventure or not. He might have forgotten it so completely that he said nothing about it; and then when you went out you found the body; and, on the other hand, he might say a great deal about it and yet you could not find the body."

"'Who is Captain Hook?'
...'Oh Peter, don't you remember?'
...'I forget them after I kill them' he replied carelessly"

"and so it will go on, as long as children are gay and innocent and heartless."

-J.M Barrie, Peter Pan.


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