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The Ragwitch Paperback – 9 Sep 2011
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Giving young readers a tantalising taste of the imagination unleashed in books to come, The Ragwitch is Garth Nixs first novel, dating from 1990, and a book that is only now making its deserved first appearance in the UK. Nixs immense reputation as a fantasy writer has been subsequently built on the success of books such as Sabriel and Lirael from his Old Kingdom trilogy, and Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday, early episodes of the Keys to the Kingdom sequence, but his debut, nevertheless, remains a readable and enjoyable adventure.
The story concerns a brother and sister, Paul and Julia, who discover a feather-covered ragdoll in a large nest on an Aboriginal midden heap besides an Australian beach. At breakneck speed, the plot has Julia possessed by the ragdoll, who is revealed as a powerful witch, and then the pair are transported through magic into the Ragwitchs own alternate kingdom. Paul, not brave by nature, instinctively follows them in order to save his sister.
While the Ragwitch tries to regain control of her old world, with Julia trapped inside her and giving her form, Paul is lost and at the behest of a host of strange creatures in a nearby forest. His task, in order to save his sibling and defeat the evil that has overtaken her, involves finding four talismans, representing Earth, Air, Fire and Water, so that he can call upon Wild Magic to do so.
All the signs were there that with The Ragwitch, Nix was at the exciting beginning of his storytelling abilities with its glorious cast of quirky characters and weird and wonderful new monsters. This earlier work is not as crisply executed, nor as boldly original, as later efforts but it remains a worthwhile encounter and is an illuminating taste of what was to come from this author.
(Age 10 and over) --John McLay
Praise for Garth Nix
“[Garth Nix is] the coolest read in the playground.” Amanda Craig
"Sabriel is a winner, a fantasy that reads like realism. Here is a world with the same solidity and four-dimensional authority as our own, created with invention, clarity and intellience." Philip Pullman
“I think Garth Nix has created a really remarkable and persuasive wold, and done it in the grand style of high fantasy and heroic romance, with some wonderful twists and turns. His Sabriel is a heroine truly worthy of that role.” Lloyd Alexander
“By turns rousing, charming and slyly funny, Sabriel is an engaging tale that slays sexual stereotypes along with its monsters.” San Francisco Chronicle
“What makes LIRAEL a delight is the magic that Nix brings to his story and to his characters. It is filled with twists and turns, playful inventiveness and dark magic, and is sure to satisfy his many readers.” LocusSee all Product description
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Well I'm running out of Nix work to read now, so I thought it was time to give it a go. Yes, I agree it's not as rounded a story as the Old Kingdom (please please write some more Mr Nix!)and Keys to the Kingdom series - however, the story has some delightful moments and fantasticly visual sequences that kept me enthralled from the beginning - I read the whole 396 pages in two days.
In my opinion the story is a rough diamond - peer through the rough edges to the sparkle underneath.
While I agree that the book is different from others Nix has written, I really love it. I think the characters are likeable - perhaps not as deep as those in other books, but as they are only 10 I'm not sure they need to be. The world is very creative and the idea that using Celtic names is 'so last year' is petty and stupid. I have always found dolls incredibly creepy so the villain is suitably chilling to me and her minions are pretty scary and imaginative, though again perhaps not as detailed as characters in later books. I dont think for the majority of people, having a minor villain that makes a noise similar to a weird, unknown tv character would ruin any book. I love the general storyline and the plot moves along at a good speed, keeping you enthralled. I always manage to read the book in a couple of days because even when I know what is going to happen it is such a page-turner. The book does remind me enormously of Lloyd Alexander, whom I know to be a favourite of Nix, no doubt leading to some of the Celtic imagery and names. I absolutely love Alexander, though, so was more than happy to be reminded of him....