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Soonchild [Hardcover]

Russell Hoban , Alexis Deacon
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
Price: £6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012
Somewhere in the Arctic Circle, Sixteen-Face John, a shaman, learns that his first child, a soonchild, cannot hear the World Songs from her mother's womb. The World Songs are what inspire all newborns to come out into the world, and John must find them for her. But how? The answer takes him through many lifetimes and many shape-shifts, as well as encounters with beasts, demons and a mysterious benevolent owl spirit, Ukpika, who is linked to John's past...

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Walker (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1406329916
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406329919
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Hoban is the best sort of genius." (Patrick Ness, The Guardian)"

Book Description

"Hoban is the best sort of genius." Patrick Ness, The Guardian

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story - very good values highlighted 25 April 2012
By Tahir
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great story. I've read many of his previous books to my children when they were younger - Frances was a favourite.
This story is quite differnt and I would recommend for perhaps over 10, early teens. I certainly enjoyed it as an adult - a good few hours read.

I am also a Shamanic Practitioner, so many of the images presented in the stories are very real to me during my Shamanic work. Even without that, it's a good read.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 6 July 2014
The book is like new. Thanks
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 3 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
10/10 thanks
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this. Not so sure children will 27 May 2013
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Russell Hoban's work is so eclectic, that it's often hard to know what to expect when you open one of his books. Here, we have a dark fable for children, which I really think most children, certainly of my acquaintance, will totally fail to appreciate. It is a slender story that tells the tale of a failing Shaman, John and his quest to find the songs of the world to tempt his daughter 'Soon Child' to be born. The illustrations by Alexis Deacon are perfectly chosen and resonate beautifully with the dark, sadness of the story. This is an accomplished, sophisticated piece of story telling in the folk tradition that will speak volumes to you if you are a fan of folk tales or the stories of ancient cultures and belief systems. It is subtle and complex and needs at least a couple of readings to really start to appreciate the stark beauty of the prose. I loved it. Sadly, I don't know many children who will. I wish I did.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A dollop of missed potential... 13 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was charmed by the concept of this book. The blurb captured my imagination, and I looked forward to a charming tale set in the "North, where the white wind blows...". Sadly however, this promise was not offered up within the book itself.

I really enjoyed the opening, especially the characterisation of Sixteen-Face John, an ineffective shaman who has to try and find out why his daughter (the 'soonchild') doesn't want to be born. Hoban's prose is perfectly tuned to the story he tells, capturing the oral intonation of a folk tale, and throughout I was pulled along by the words alone! What I was less pleased with, however, was the actual content of the story. There was really very little to it in my mind. I disliked the 'solution' to Sixteen-Face John's quest, feeling that Hoban had missed on encapsulating the landscape of 'the North'. He instead goes for a more fantastic set of locations, which weren't for me nearly as interesting, seemingly dredged up from stock 'dreamscapes'. They had none of the magic of his original premise, or his central character.

John too didn't develop as I had hoped, despite changing his identity on several occasions. One of the features of his character (his fear of everything!) was all but forgotten, which I thought a shame. I think part of the magic originally hinted at fades when John's quest becomes a 'save-the-world' mission, far less personal and intimate than the charming premise which started the story off. Personally, I found this a watering down, too similar to the familiar story-arcs of so much 'fantasy' literature. Hoban seems to have intentionally darkened the mood of the tale, which, again, I wasn't too pleased with.
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