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The Twistrose Key Hardcover – 17 Oct 2013
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a brilliant mix of legend, childhood games... conspiracy, emotion and dangerous adventure, with wonderful illustrations throughout (Juno)
The Twistrose Key is a charming adventure story in the tradition of C S Lewis and Brian Jacques. This is a good, old-fashioned quest of a story and would make a lovely winter read to snuggle up with on a cold, dark night. (We Love This Book)
. . . beautifully written. The dialogue sparkles. The descriptive passages are wonderful. The prose sparkles and dances off the page, creating a truly vivid world. And there's a Scandinavian flavour to it that feels really fresh . . . The Twistrose Key comes highly recommended to all fans of magic aged from 10 and up - and by up, we mean the grown ups too. (The Bookbag)
Skillfully blending facets of classic high fantasy, this debut novel will captivate readers with its rich plot and detailed worldbuilding . . . Fantasy that evokes the classics of yore and stands proudly among them (Kirkus, starred review)
Featured in the Gransnet list of best children's books of 2013 (www.gransnet.com)
. . . my children's book of the year is The Twistrose Key, a dazzling debut by Norwegian writer, Tone Almhjell. She has created the stunning wintery world of Sylver, peopled by human-sized creatures who were all formerly pets. Our heroine, Lin, manages to get into the world using a key marked 'Twistrose', and is reunited with her much missed pet vole, Rufus. The book has a Narnia-esque feel and possesses the plot, pace and dash of a classic. (Lorraine Courtney The Irish Independent)
This exhilarating tale is set in the timeless world of snowy Sylver - a home to every dead animal that ever loved a child. Packed with adventure, there is a surprise on nearly every page. Original and captivating, this story is suitable for both boys and girls who are 11+ and good experienced readers. Adults would enjoy it too I'm sure. This is such a good book that I could not put it down. (Izzy, aged 10 The Sun)
In Tone Almhjell's evocative wintry fantasy The Twistrose Key, Lin grieves for a pet vole who lived in her pocket. One day she enters a snowy world where beloved pets have become human, and sets out to find a lost boy. The plot is complicated but the relationships are touching, with settings of poetic splendour - frozen landscapes, cosy rooms, bustling inns. (The Sunday Times)
Set in the timeless world of snowy Sylver, full of adventure and unforgettable characters, THE TWISTROSE KEY is a story readers everywhere will fall in love with.See all Product description
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I have read my fair share of novels, in the fantasy genre and otherwise, but seldom, if ever, have I read a book with as tight and well-honed a plot as this. It seems that whatever colourful threads of narrative are spun out for the reader are all neatly woven back together, sometimes with an unexpected twist, in this lovely tapestry of a story.
Descriptive passages are very evocative, providing the readers with the necessary information so they themselves can fill in the blanks and visualise the interesting and wonderful world of Sylver. These passages are also at the same time admirably short, never slowing down the pace and flow of the story.
The characters are varied and also quite colourful. The concept of this storybook world means that Tone can pick and choose from many different animals as characters, and this she uses to full advantage. In both the description of their individual mannerisms and in some of their ways of talking, she cleverly uses traits we associate with those animals, meaning a very short description, or sometimes even just one word they use, can be enough to give them plenty of individuality.
In short, this is very efficient storytelling combined with a wonderfully imaginative and original world, lovable characters and - at the heart of it all - a cracking good and engaging story. Despite being aimed at younger readers, I think this is a book everyone should read and that most everyone will enjoy.
As an added note, I really do hope someone picks up the film rights soon. With the right production, this would make quite a blockbuster.
Oh! I must remember to credit illustrator Ian Schoenherr whose art contributes so lovely to the power of the story. Well done! :)
I will say though, that this is a beautifully crafted tale of magic and adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and can recommend it to anyone be they child or adult.
Consider first our heroine. She is smart, resourceful and courageous. She is observant, logical and thoughtful. She is capable of great depth of feeling and is empathetic. She has a wry sense of humor and, unusual for a middle grade book, a sense of irony. She is, in every important way, fundamentally decent and appealing. But, there is also a bit of vinegar in there and some no-nonsense impatience. And she deports herself quite well when it comes time for some action/adventure. (All of this reminds me a bit of Dorothy Gale from "The Wizard of Oz", and it takes nothing from our heroine or this book to make that favorable comparison.)
As to the imagined world, (POSSIBLE MILD SPOILERS, BUT NOT BEYOND THE JACKET BLURBS), a world populated by dead pets who loved or were loved by children is a wonderful concept, if handled carefully. This could easily turn sappy or precious or phony in the hands of an author lacking subtlety or interested in just a quick emotional score. Our author treats the idea in a matter-of-fact manner, and doesn't ham it up or try to overexplain it. This is just the way it is; it's fantastic and wonderful; now let's get on with our story. This approach reflects great respect for a young reader, who doesn't need to be spoon fed or force fed if it's good fantasy. And, the world is really doubly well imagined, in the sense that even if you just eliminated the entire pet angle the actual world, the physical place and setting, is so nicely imagined, so evocatively described, and so neatly arranged and presented that it works well as an adventure locale. I liked and felt some connection with this place, and if you have characters you like and a place you want them to be in, you have a book with potential.
As to plot, no spoilers here. It's twisty, it all fits together, its easy to follow, it hits all of the traditional quest/challenge/adventure high points, and it satisfies.
So, a fine heroine, interesting and colorful and engaging secondary characters, nice imaginative touches, and graceful and muscular but restrained writing - this really is an estimable and worthy book.
And remember, Rufus is a vole, not a mouse.
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