Cold Tom Paperback – 3 Apr 2008
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One of those rare, strange, wonderful books that makes you see the world through different eyes (The Guardian)
Outstanding (The Sunday Times)
The finest first novel I have read since David Almond's Skellig (Glasgow Herald)
Enthralling and original (The Bookseller)
An award-winning and magical story reissued with a stunning new cover lookSee all Product description
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I have read many re-tellings of the Tam Lin/Thomas the Rhymer story, but never one from the point of view of the elves.
Cold Tom gets into the heart of the story and is utterly convincing - the interactions between Tribe and Humans are original in vision and poetic
All fantasy/folk-lore readers should give this a try.
Cold Tom defies synopsis, its a short read and totally unputdownable. It is so original and wise. My advice is to read the book and just let the story happen, its much the best way.
Afterwards you want to pass it on to friends and you really want to know what they think.
Finally, if you love it i can recommend another two books with odd similarites, both by Dianna Wynne Jones. The power of three and Fire and Hemlock.
The quote on the cover from Michael Morpurgo suggests this was Sally Prue's first novel. On the back the words "original, fascinating, dark splendour, chilling, inventive, haunting, impressive, compelling" are splattered among a constellation of silver stars and I wouldn't like to argue with any of them. This is quite a short novel but it's beautifully written and packs a lot into its 136 pages, especially about the condition of being human.
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The quote on the English edition's cover from Michael Morpurgo suggests this was Sally Prue's first novel. On the back the words "original, fascinating, dark splendour, chilling, inventive, haunting, impressive, compelling" are splattered among a constellation of silver stars and I wouldn't like to argue with any of them. This is quite a short novel but it's beautifully written and packs a lot into its 136 pages, especially about the condition of being human.
This book tells the story and transition of an elfin outcast trying to hide from his tribe in the city of the human demons. The narrative is from point of view of Tom, an almost feral child from a shadowy world that is used to solitude and hate, seeing human emotion for the first time.
At first Tom hates everything about humans, and he sees what we would call typical family situations so differently that at times it's comedic. This book is an interesting new take on the warmth of humanity and the bonds that act as "vines that tie" and make us "slaves" to each other. Tom is forced to adjust to human relationships for his own safety because he can't always "call upon the stars to hide him" by turning him invisible.
The concept is intriguing, but the plot is somewhat monotone and simplistic, as nothing seems to happen apart from Tom hiding. If it were a film, it would have to be under an hour long (unless there were a lot of needless nature shots). The resolution at the end is somewhat abrupt compared to the pace of the rest of the book, its revealed secrets are force-fed to you over and over, and the emotions seem somewhat over-dramatic. It lacks depth.
I was disappointed because I wanted more of the world inside the book, and was given only a minimal amount. The story and the characters needed more development, and much more plot, so I wouldn't highly recommend it.
I picked Cold Tom purely by accident at my local library, and the story so successfully gripped me that I finished it the same day. Not because it was easy, but because it was excellent! At the time I was in a sort of reading slump, and this so-called children's fantasy was like ice water in the desert. And let me tell you: if you're in the desert and you find water, it tastes amazing no matter what size the glass is! ;-)
Cold Tom is a tale based on the age-old subject of humans and fairies, but crafted with a unique and refreshing view of both (though I agree with reviewer Heather Scott that the fairies seem to actually be portrayed more authentically if judged by the standard of ancient myth).
The otherworldly point of view that this story is told from can be either confusing or mesmorizing. Tom's internal dialogue concerning 'aliens' at first had me ready to believe the book was set in an entirely different world containing extraterrestrial races. But it then slowly, smartly revealed itself to be an entirely different kind of story...
I would compare the book's tone or feel and use of point of view, as well as the story itself, to that of the revolutionary 'new classic' faery tales collected and chronicled by authors and editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (Another book, or rather set of books, that I STRONGLY recommend. Incidently, they themselves have another intriguing anthology entitled "The Faery Reel" that is well worth a look). Indeed, to the more mature reader Cold Tom may seem more like a somewhat long short story, that would be much at home in a fantasy anthology.
If I believed in the perfectly written book, this may well have gotten 5 stars. As it stands, I, having read so very VERY many books and being prepared to read many many more :-), cannot give any book a perfect 5. But Cold Tom is one of those few books that just might deserve it.
My final plea: don't let the age recommendation deter you from the opportunity to read a wonderful fantasy book! Consider it a refreshing little detour, in which you enjoy a gourmet literary 'snack' before moving on to whatever 'adult' book has been chosen as your main corse. Your taste buds will not be disappointed!
I just wanted to warn other parents that if your child has a very active imagination and has a low tolerance for any level of "gore" that they will likely be bothered by this book.