Isabel Burt has a clever imagination as she makes her rich fantasy world come to life. I would loved to have read this gentle tale as a teenager. A classic quest interwoven with a coming of age sub-plot, it lays out challenges and emotional quandaries, but is never gratuitously violent.
The emerging relationship between Reuben and Felicity is finely drawn and the maturation process of each character is mysterious while deftly handled. I liked the variety of characters and smiled at the author's evident time spent in France in her names - taureau, taurelle, greenesse, for instance.
The theme of being in balance with nature is very important. By making the inhabitants of this world live naturally within it, the author has avoided the classic trap many fantasy writers fall into of `info dumping'. Ms Burt winds the detail into the narrative.
I understand this is the first in a series and the ground seems well laid for further adventures.
As one reviewer has already stated, the Narnia like kingdom, created by the imaginative author,Ms Burt, gently invites you in to the intricacies of a world in which the Toxics look to alter the order of The Old World. There are green liquids found in forests, aniseed, turquoise coloured river waters and so much more. The story of Reuben and Felicity's unlikely relationship holds the plot together, but do they have a future in reality? It's plot carefully weaves the magic and I am confident that its target audience will be left spellbound by the author's comfortable and appropriate prose style.
A beautifully written mini epic about right values, the importance of inner strength, community, living up to your highest and best potential. It contains some very poetic and lyrical passages as it charts a disparate group's spiritual quest to re-instate a world they believe in. It also sensitively captures the experience of two young people in the throes of a burgeoning first love. Any reader over the age of 11 would be enthralled by this book.
As an 18 year old male, I'm not sure I was the originally intended target audience for this novel. I am however a great lover of fantasy and when I stumbled upon it, it caught my interest. Upon reading, I'm happy to say that I found myself completely absorbed in the brilliantly refreshingly original ideas working wonderfully alongside a few of the classics. Not to mention the very loveable characters which, by the end, I found myself really caring for, only to further my immersion in the story. In my view this book doesn't have a true target audience, I would recommend it to anyone.
I have to confess to not being a fan of fantasy but was intrigued to read Toxics having been drawn by the beautiful cover and very positive reviews. As a children's author myself I was also interested to see what others are writing about in the age range I write for.
My verdict? Well if I were a fantasy fan I would probably give this 5 stars - so that fact that I'm giving it 4 hopefully goes some way to indicate how strong an impact the Ms Burt's imaginary world made on me. She writes beautifully (truly beautifully) and the world she creates, and into which we see 14-year-old Felicity thrown, is highly visual - one reads and experiences as if watching a large-screen movie in the style of Avatar....
The cast of `plant' and animal characters is well-rounded and often very amusing, albeit a little difficult to keep up with at the start... But this quickly settles down and as the journey they find themselves on together to save the Old World progresses they start to feel like wonderfully familiar friends. (I especially enjoyed Georges - the ancient huffing and puffing Taureau - not least when we finally see him with his new `mate' towards the end).
The intricate details of Ms Burt's imaginary world - foods, rituals, character cast, Old World history and origins - leave an indelible impression (I had vivid dreams each night that I was reading it!) and will be relished by fantasy fans.
Which age is this right for? Well, on reading the opening sampler I had thought it likely suitable for age 9-12. Now having read the book I would agree that this is best suited for fantasy fans from age 11 and beyond, although bookworm accomplished readers from age 9/10 who love fantasy will undoubtedly enjoy it too.
Tip - there's also a Glossary at the end of the book which I wish I'd discovered sooner!
Toxics is a coming of age quest, in an Avatar like ‘Old World.’ The author paints a vivid picture of an eco-paradise with fantastical creatures, plants and rituals, which hapless Felicity (14) falls into. With so many unique characters, the glossary and maps provided in the book were really useful. The characters all have warmth and I found myself routing for them all as they tried to restore balance and harmony to their world. I’m probably not the books target audience - I would say it’s for 9 – 12 year old. Its a gentle, beautiful read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.