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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 24 March 2017
brilliant illustrations!
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on 10 November 2013
Sally Gardner is one of those authors whose books I long for. I'm always excited when I hear that a new book written by her is being published and I'm always extremely eager to get my hands on it. With 'Tinder', Gardner has written a spellbinding story based around Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale 'The Tinderbox'. I actually have a really old book on my shelves which is the complete collection of tales by Anderson and which has been passed down through my family. One of the most well thumbed sections of the book is this exact fairy tale which has always been one of my favourites. I always loved the image of the dogs with eyes as big as saucers and the magical tinderbox which has the ability to grace the recipient with whatever his heart desires.

There are elements of the traditional version of the story here, but Gardner has also reinterpreted it in her own unique way. It is now set at the time of The Thirty Years war when soldier Otto Hundebiss is given a pair of shoes and a set of dice. These innocuous objects are set to change his future destiny as he embarks on a strange and mysterious new journey where he will have to face love and death and confront his own personal nightmares.

I thought 'Tinder' was wonderful. It's quirky and unusual and quite dark in places but it drew me in and kept me enthralled until the very end. It shows that fairy tales don't always have happy endings and that conflict, love and loss are faced by people in every walk of life.

I read a proof copy of the book but the final finished version features over 100 black and white images by illustrator David Roberts which accompany the text of the story. If you love Sally Gardner and have already read 'Tinder' then why not buy a copy for a friend or if you haven't yet discovered this amazing author then I implore you not to wait any longer and rush out and get yourself a copy today. You won't be disappointed!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 January 2014
I grew up with Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, and was delighted to find out that "Tinder" is based on one of his stories ("The Tinderbox").

Sally Gardner's twisted fairy-tale follows Otto Hundebiss, a deserter soldier running away from the cruelties of war (in this case the Thirty Years' war). Otto refuses the Death's hand when it is offered to him during his final battle, and what follows is a magical adventure which begins when the mystical creature gives Otto a pair of boots and dice to guide him on his quest (on his quest to find his true love, of course!). Otto meets Safire, a fierce and beautiful young woman, his love, and the chillingly scary "Lady of the Nail" who is after his virginity (and possibly his life), he encounters mysteries, horrors, grief and seduction. Nothing in this book can be taken at face value - everything has a double meaning, the story is full of symbols.

The tale is dark, but beautifully told, it is narrated like a medieval fairy tale. Utilising almost archaic turn of phrase, Sally Gardner creates a mystical and harrowing world. Gardner's narrative is fast-paced and gripping, mixing ghosts, werewolves, witches, spiders and cobwebs and talking flames - all in all quite a magical feast!

Additional star goes for the amazing illustrations by David Roberts, contributing to the book's horrifying beauty, which made the story come alive in my hands - I uploaded a short video of some of the illustrations. If you are thinking of getting the book - make sure to buy a hardback version (not an e-book!) - it's a delight to discover and read.
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on 11 August 2017
Beautiful drawings and a great story - my 14 year old asked for it and loved it.
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on 5 August 2016
Book ok. Late delivery
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on 11 January 2014
This is a sumptious book. You need to have it in your hand - you need to really enjoy the illustrations. Forget e-book versions, if they exist. It is a reworking of the Tinderbox story that you may or may not remember depending on how old you are. This is completely amazing if you have read the original and if you have never heard of it. Maggot Moon was a high spot for me but I loved this re-interpretation of an old story. Just hold it in your hand and love it.
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on 19 November 2014
You know you are reading an adult or young adult book when there are no pictures involved any more. Sally Gardner, who also writes books for children with illustrations, decided to do things a little different when she wrote her adult novel ‘Tinder’. This fairy tale retelling of ‘the tinderbox’ by Hans Christian Andersen is accompanied by beautiful illustrations made by David Roberts. Did this combination leave me with a hunger for more illustrated novels? Let’s find out!

‘Tinder’ tells the story of a soldier named Otto Hundebiss (literally dog-bite in German). During a brutal battle, Otto sees Death walking among the men and decides he has finally had enough: he flees into the forest. There, he meets a half-beast half-man who collects shoes from the dead. He gives Otto a new pair of boots and some magic dice that will tell him where he has to go. During his journey into the forest, Otto meets the daughter of the Duke who rules the neighbouring lands. Safire is accused of being a she-wolf and is hunted upon by the men of the Duke because she has to marry a prince. Otto decides that he will safe her, but how exactly does a deserted soldier go about saving the daughter of a Duke, especially when he has his own demons to battle? This synopsis sounds more light-hearted than the story really is: it contains rape, murder, betrayal and trauma. It is dark and gritty and probably more gruesome than the original fairy tale. Otto is the narrator and through his dreams, we slowly learn more about the events that haunt him and made him into the man he has become.

First and foremost, I must say I really liked the idea of combining an adult novel with illustrations. David Roberts has captured the atmosphere well with his drawings in different shades of black, grey and white. The people he draws are often angular and fit their descriptions. ‘Tinder’ contains illustrations that cover an entire page as well as drawings that only cover up part of the page they are on. This, together with the fond that is quite large, makes ‘Tinder’ a book you can finish quite fast even though the themes it deals with are not easy. Otto is also an interesting character: he has a lot of traumas he needs to deal with and seems bitter at times, yet he remains loyal and determined as well.

Unfortunately, this book also had some weaker aspects. First of all, I feel like Otto and Safire should have been given more time to fall in love. I understand that both were lonely and hurt and quite eager to find someone they could love, but I would have at least liked to read a bit more about their blossoming love. Gardner has only devoted a few words to them falling in love, yet we have to roll with it for the rest of the novel. The story would have been stronger if she had taken her time there a bit more. Second of all, I found that the ending was quite a downer. I think it was unnecessary and I felt a little cheated.

All in all, I quite enjoyed ‘Tinder’. It is a book you can read in a few hours; though devoting a few minutes more to see the gorgeous illustrations is really worth your time. It deals aptly with difficult themes, yet the timing felt a bit off at times and I disliked the ending. I would advise everyone who enjoys fairy tale retellings, is a fan of Sally Gardner or enjoys somewhat creepier stories in general to read this. Stay away if one of your major pet-peeves is insta-love.

Title: Tinder
Author: Sally Gardner
Publisher: Indigo
Pages: 256
ISBN: 1780621493
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on 15 February 2015
A great rewrite of Hans Anderson's Tinderbox fairytale which must be a contender for the Carnegie shortlist 2015. Having previously won with Maggot Moon, this tale is much slower paced and poetic in style, with beautiful imagery both verbal and visual. Gardner's writing just gets better and better. In the afterward Gardner explains her use of vivid and often brutal imagery of war. Certainly I feel this reads more like a YA or adult fable and would suggest that parents read this before they give it to a 10 year old.
Hauntingly and powerfully illustrated with black, white and red drawings. If you feel the cover art may be too strong for you child, be warned - there is more inside.
Carnegie longlist 2015
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on 7 May 2015
This is the first book I've read from the 2015 Carnegie Medal shortlist and it didn't disappoint. Based on a classic fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, it's a story of death, love, jealousy, hate and revenge and is brimming with magic, sorcery, witchcraft and werewolves. The illustrations in the book are amazing and beautifully capture the essence of the characters and the story.

The writing is beautiful too. Some of the phrases Sally uses are breathtaking in their observational capacity and storytelling prowess. As an aspiring writer, I can only hope to be able to write like that one day!

Having sung it's praises, I have a couple of concerns. Firstly, I'm not sure who the target audience is for this book. The shortlist suggests it's for the 11+ age group but it would require an advanced reader to really be able to engage with the storytelling. Secondly, I would have liked Otto to have had to endure more conflict on his journey - it was there but I didn't feel like those scenes were exploited as much as they could have been to raise the tension and stakes as much as possible.

Overall though, I definitely recommend this book as a good read.
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on 2 February 2014
I stumbled across this book looking for new material to read with my class. They, and I, were mesmerized by the initial paragraphs and the illustration. The difference in this case was that I was as excited by the tale as the children in my class, so was the quality of the writing. As a result I was reading it in secret! This was my first Sally Gardner book, it won't be my last.
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