Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

“Life On Mars Meets Alice In Wonderland”

The Picture House

Cover Art By Vanessa Morris

The Picture House is a children’s fantasy story about a young imaginative boy trapped in a coma and the struggle of his three friends to save him from both his condition and the embodiment of his nightmares. Over the course of the story the three brave friends explore the fantastical regions of a child’s imagination, meeting lost souls, angry gardeners, enslaved trees and a wily black cat.

Although it is a story aimed at children The Picture House certainly does not talk down to its readers. The vocabulary, although not too baffling, is beautifully descriptive and vivid. Younger readers may struggle with some of the text but only in a way that encourages further learning. The themes in the book do not pull punches either. There is a very real sense of loss for many characters in the story which is dealt with in a sincere and compassionate way. These themes are not morose or morbid but rather encourage hope and understanding.

The characters are sympathetic and fun to read about. They are not action heroes but rather ordinary people who go through their ordeal because they care about their friend. You could maybe question how the children adapt so readily to such a bedazzling environment. But hey, kids are tough and it would hardly be an exciting story if they spent half the book going to pieces.

I would recommend a story like this to an imaginative child, boy or girl, who may enjoy watching Tim Burton Films, Doctor Who or Harry Potter. It is not wholly educational but is fun to read and steers away from patronising young people. I may not normally be a fan of this sort of book (and I’m probably old enough to know better) but I enjoyed it for it’s ability to amuse and entertain my imagination.

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“Fantasy Without The Usual Suspects”


Magic Of Thieves is the first in the Legends Of Dimmingwood series. It chronicles in first person the life of Ilan, a young girl whose village was destroyed by royal soldiers. Fleeing after seeing both her parents murdered for witchcraft she finds herself taken in by bandits and starting a new life under the vast shadow of Dimmingwood.  Unlike most fantasy settings, Dimmingwood has none of the usual elves, goblins, or dragons which is frankly a refreshing change.  Despite the elven-looking cover art, Ilan herself is in fact human, although obviously from some kind of shrouded ancestry.

It is only a short read and is probably best suited to teenagers and young adults rather than children. The use of language is fairly stocky and robust like the setting itself but that is not a poor reflection on the author. We are introduced to a gritty unforgiving world so Magic Of Thieves needs little in the way poetic flourish.  The writing is direct but not at all clumsy.

As an overall story Magic Of Thieves can seem a little unstructured. There are no overwhelming morals or plot twists in this first installment, it merely sets the scene. Ilan is rather flawed as a main protaginist. She is selfish and immature in many ways but I have the feeling she will settle and find her place in the world later in the series.   It’s a case of bearing with her for now because at some point she’ll come through for you.

I’d recommend this story and this series to anyone over 13 if you like fantasy but are perhaps sick of orcs, elves & dwarves.

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