on 26 July 2004
I'm thankful to Mrs Cox, from Bounds Green School London, for introducing me to this book at the tender age of 5. There's a lot of furore over books like the Harry Potter series of His Dark Materials - this book, "The Giant Under the Snow" was producing a magical and believable storyworld AEONS before either of the aforementioned. John Gordon weaves a fantastic and dark tale of magic, of ancient tumulii and curses, and of course as with any decent kids book worth its salt, the children are the star. Anti-heroine Jonquil Winters is not a glory-seeker, rather has it thrust upon her by a series of coincidental circumstances which ultimately lead to a confrontation with an ancient evil lain dormant for centuries. Yeah yeah, I hear you say "It's all been done before" but bear in mind this book was written back in the 60s by an author who's not very well known but deserves to be (and is still writing to this day, also check out "The Midwinter Watch" by John Gordon.
For anyone mildly interested in chalk figures, iron age tombs and dark mysterious magic, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you can find a copy (it's out of print) you're lucky. It took me 25 years to find one..!
on 29 May 2007
'The Giant under the snow' is the tale of three children who find themselves pulled against their will into the final battle of a secret war that began thousands of years ago. In the last few days before christmas, Jonquil discovers an ancient belt buckle on a strange earth mound in the forest. It quickly becomes clear that the buckle is more than it seems, and there are dark forces who will do anything to possess it.....as the snow falls and the fog descends, the children realise they have no choice but to see it through to the end.
Beautifully written and wonderfully atmospheric, the author taps into that sense of how different the world feels when thick snow and fog change the landscape. A normally busy street can feel very creepy on a dark foggy night. Particularly when you realise a mysterious black hound is trailing your every move...... The book has a genuinely unsettling and claustrophobic feel that actually might be a bit much for younger children.
In reality, the story is based around a mixture of viking and celtic legends. Many of the locations in the story are based on real sites in the authors' home county of Norfolk. I am really pleased to see this back in print - it was one of my favourite childhood books,and is every bit as engrossing for children now. You won't be disappointed.
on 30 June 2006
This was my favourite book as a child, I first read it when I was ten and was entranced (as well as being terrified from time to time!). Sadly, I lost my copy (never lend your books to ANYONE!). The descriptions in this book are vivid and beautifully written, especially the flight sequences, the author has the ability to truly stimulate your imagination (a rare gift). When I re-read it I could still see the scenes that I had first imagined thirty years ago (you do the maths). Buy a copy for your children, they will be very grateful, or if you haven't got kids buy it for yourself. Personally, I'm looking forward to reading it to my daughters on winter evenings in a few years time - it's that sort of book.
on 11 April 2006
A few months ago I thought of this book from my childhood, as a great read for my children. Unfortunately it was out of print, but every reviewer agreed with me - 5 stars! I first read it aged 11, and it gripped me like no other - brooding menace and darkness are the dominant images that remain in my mind now 29 years later, in a way that no other book achieved before or since.
There are some similarities to Alan Garner's books - "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen", "The Moon of Gomrath" etc. - with children suddenly finding themselves caught up in a struggle between ancient forces of good and evil. But "The Giant Under the Snow" felt more tightly written and had me under its spell.
It's so long since I read it that I can't do you a synopsis. But you can get them on Amazon; just search again under "John Gordon" and you'll find the reviews for a previous publication.
There are many new children's fantasy books. Which one do you choose? This one is a proven success. Buy it before it goes out of print again!
As I write it's December, almost Christmas, and there's still one book which for me is the perfect read for this time of year: The Giant Under the Snow. I first encountered this book some forty years ago, but I've re-read it several times since, latterly to my own children.
There's something about the way John Gordon manages to evoke the loneliness of a misty winter wasteland which will be familiar to anyone who has ever been too slow to make it back to their car on an afternoon's walk to Grimes Graves in Norfolk, and is then caught in the crepuscular between-worlds of light and dark. Shadows move between the trees, panic builds and then...then we're caught up in a breathless quest involving Celtic treasures, pagan symbolism and magic.
The language is challenging for young readers but the descriptions are timeless. An overlooked classic of children's literature.
on 15 December 2004
Whilst negotiating a fairly miserable childhood I sought to lose myself in literature. One of the most memorable books I read was John Gordons 'The Giant Under the Snow'. It's a story that trancends age and can be enjoyed by parent and child.Beautifully written and more subtle and evocative than modern examples of the genre, 'Giant' transports the reader into a dark but magical world, where ones imagination is the only obstacle to total immersion. The 'flying' scene still features in my dreams 30 years later, affording me endless escapism.
A much more interesting choice than Harry Potter, if only it were possible to acquire a copy. Also try Alan Garner's 'Elidor' and 'The Moon of Gomrath', both excellent stories.
on 12 October 2006
I was given a copy of the paperback version of this story in 1974. It is dropping to pieces now and so a couple of days ago I went in search of a used copy in better condition. I was absolutely amazed to see that this wonderful book has been republished and ordered my copy from Amazon immediately.
John Gordon has written one of the best urban fantasy tales I have ever read. It is a magical story with the three protagonists finding themselves embroiled in a battle between good and evil. Maybe this sounds hackneyed to the hard core fan of the genre, but it truly isn't. I really feel this particular story has something special and unique to offer. Something that will stay with the reader for many years. It is wonderfully told, the characters feel real and the locations are described so well you can easily close your eyes and picture them.
I won't mention anything of the incredible plot, but those of you who have had the privelege of reading this story before will know what I mean here; Every year, when I get up and leave the house on a cold, foggy winters morning I smile as I think of The Giant Under the Snow. This time of year always reminds me that the time has come to pick up my copy and read it again. I have read the book every year since 1974 and never get fed up with meeting the characters again. They are like old friends. This is one of those rare books that grips you from page one right through to the end and stays with you for a long time afterwards.
My heartfelt thanks to Mr Gordon for writing this amazing story all those years ago. Likewise to the publisher for giving me the opportunity to own a brand new copy to last me another 30 years or so.
on 22 November 2006
I first read this book at school as a child and loved so much I bought it a few years ago and now read it every year. My partner now loves it and also re-reads it regularly. Although this is a book for children it is a great read for adults as well. The story is quite sinister and magical and you feel totally captivated and almost inside the story yourself. I can highly recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy and magical stories.
on 16 December 2007
In the 70's and 80's I used to read this to entire classes of 11/12 year olds in late Autumn term from November onwards. They would sit and listen, boys and girls alike, entranced like infants. John Gordon writes beautifully evocative descriptions of an unnamed city and its environs during the dark days leading up to Christmas and, for me, it is East Anglian scenery to a tee.
A terrific tale of changing relationships too.
on 11 June 2003
I first read The Giant Under The Snow at the age of eleven, and immediatly found myself drawn to it. This book, although written for a children's audience, has to be on of the most beautiffuly descriptive literrary pieces I have ever come across. The story focuses around three children who find a missing part of a belt, which if used properly can summon a dark lord from his rest. The three children, with the help of Elizabeth Gooenough, embark on a journey to defeat the warlord. The dark, often gothic imagery used to describe the woods is absolutley beautiful, And although written for a younger audience, not once does this book patronise the intelligence of kids. The book is a dark, mean and moody story, with imagery almost straight out of a Tim Burton film. I highly reccomend purchasing this book, as it is no longer in print and it is fantastic story. Faye.