Monday, December 22, 2008

The Secret of Spirits Bay

Three or four months ago a New Zealand author called Stephen Barker very kindly sent me his children's book. He said there was something in his writing that had chimed with something he had read in one of mine, and he had offered to put my name in his acknowledgements because of this, but I had told him there was no need. All writers are influenced by what they read, I believe, and I was very flattered that Steve was influenced by mine - especially now that I've read it!

So the book, THE SECRET OF SPIRITS BAY, has been in languishing in Hodmandod TBR pile ever since the end of summer, and I have been longing to read it, but only recently has it surfaced.

Surfacing is also a theme in this book; ghosts and memories are uncovered both spiritually and actually. There are two threads - one in the past, about 1882, and one in the present. The two stories interweave gracefully and very satisfyingly, coming together in an extremely exciting and interesting climax. Towards the end it becomes a terrific page-turner, and I learnt a lot about Maori culture and New Zealand settlers. It is well-written, an excellent choice for a boy aged around twelve I would say , and a very enjoyable for the slightly older girl too! I thoroughly recommend it.

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