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Soonchild Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012
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This magical tale from a master storyteller is highly readable and full of imagination...The stunning illustrations by Alexis Deacon are as important to the telling of the story as the text, and this book will truly delight both children and adult alike. * We Love This Book * Hoban's books never float around the front of the brain but delve deep where it matters...this book is mysterious but not obscure, alternately funny and profound * Carousel * Walker are also to be congratulated on producing such a beautiful, physical object, with a fine dust jacket, fully illustrated boards, and different coloured paper to represent different parts of the narrative, and all for under a tenner. Alexis Deacon's moody pencil illustrations add a haunting counterpoint to the magical realism of the story, and have their own moments of wit...Every adolescent should have a copy of this one. Trust me, nobody will be writing stories quite like this anymore. -- Tony Bradman * Guardian * this wonderfully timeless and atmospheric story ... as attractive to look at and handle as it is to read * The Irish Times * magical ... one for sophisticated readers of all ages * The Sunday Times * This unusual tale for both adults and children is imaginative, magical and readable * Booktrust * Some have said that Soonchild isn't really a book for young adults. Well, it is and it isn't. It's a book for everyone. I'd read it to young children - all folk tales are scary. I'd read it myself for pleasure. * The Bookbag * any adolescent who'll appreciate this thoughtful, juicy piece of mythmaking is on the way to being a very wise grown-up indeed * Telegraph * The monochrome artwork is masterly and the words hold their own delights...certainly there is nothing quite like it. * The School Librarian * Ideal for children who like their stories more mythical. * The Daily Telegraph * I would love to read more from this unique and creative author! * Teen Titles * wonderfully strange story * Irish Independent * Atmospheric, poetic, beautiful. * The Irish Times *
"Hoban is the best sort of genius." Patrick Ness, The GuardianSee all Product description
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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. The format of the book suggests it being for young children, but honestly, I don't think it targets this audience as effectively as the author's previous works for kids.
I must also mention the illustrations, which I really thought were wonderful, if a little on the dark side. But as the mood of the story is, for the most part, far from cheerful I suppose that is just as well.
On the whole, I was disappointed by 'Soonchild', having really looked forward to it. I find it hard to decide on a score, but at the end of the day am going to offer four stars rather than three, as I did appreciate the tone of Hoban's prose, and Deacon's moody illustrations. I just wish there had been a more original, or simply more charming story.
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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