Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Tim Tilley - Harklights - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Looking into this book cover is like looking into the star-lit future. Harklights will be published on 13th May 2021 by Usborne Publishing but it needs mentioning early so you can pop it on your pre-order list now. The author and illustrating duties are both by Tim Tilley, who has accomplished a dual spectacular from the illustrative and narrative point of view. A former Winner of the Joan Aiken Future Classic prize, Tim has now made his foray into a middle-grade fantasy where he will be noted for a truly reflective story. The proof copy is gorgeous but, of course, is missing some of the illustrations so I'm really looking FORWARD to seeing them in the finished copy. 

The story feels like a Dickensian tale that meets the Borrowers with an environmental overtone. I thought it really worked and loved every minute of this book. In fact, I read it in virtually one sitting. It all begins at Harklights which is an Orphanage and Match Factory. All the children work for an old tyrant called Old Ma Bogey which is a fantastic name for a character. All the characters have new names to reflect the factory. Wick is one of the unfortunate characters who lives in this dark and dreadful place. They really are dire living conditions where the children work tirelessly with no way out. However, one day something happens out of the ordinary, a bird drops something beyond belief - a tiny baby in an acorn cradle.

From this point forward, the narrative takes on a wild turn of magical events that are both imaginative and captivating. Wick dreams of escaping but as midnight chimes he is visited by the Hobs (miniature protectors) and the guardians of the forest outside the factory. His dreams come true and he escapes on a magical tree stag where he finds happiness and love like he has never known. If this was a HAPPY fairytale the story would end here. However, that would not do as Old Ma Bogey woman has something else to say. With wickedness, a shotgun, and the willful destruction of the forest she leads us down a path that will leave you shivering with fear and trepidation as the story further unfolds. 

This is a thrilling tale about the importance of looking after nature and the environment. It has a moralistic view of future innovation vs mankind's greed and cruelty. This heartwarming story is about family, friendship, and a message filled with hope. The amazing setting has a sparkling, magical theme that is not overly used. The only thing to ask is: are you ready to strike that match to pursue a fantasy bonfire that you will want to escape into? If so, then what are you waiting for? This is a story I would fully recommend - it's a real treat.

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