Thursday, 5 May 2011

Veggie Book: Shadowmagic

Plants have feelings too.

At least, they do in John Lenahan's Shadowmagic, which is a magical fantasy rompette (too short to be a full romp, although maybe once you put the whole series together it'll qualify for romp status) through Tir-Na-Nog, a land of immortals, and the kind of place you wish you could get to on a short haul package deal. It sounded fabulous: alive, and fresh, and interesting. I think that's an achievement for us jaded fantasy readers who've seen it all before.

And the characters are interesting in fresh ways too: there may be leprechauns and imps, but they're quite different from what you might expect. Nobody capers or says twee things. I liked the whole bunch of them. And speaking of bunches, here's the fruity moment where Conor (our teenage hero who has been transported to Tir-Na-Nog; I won't give anything else away) arrives at Castle Muhn for the first time. It shows a pacy, straightforward style that sidesteps high language and pages of description for something a lot more engaging and relevant to a Young Adult reader:

This place was spectacularly elegant. We were no longer strictly in the castle but in the Great Vineyard, a football-pitch-sized courtyard adorned with fountains and huge black and white marble statues. The statues were like oversized chess pieces strewn about in a haphazard manner - some upright, others on their side. It was as if the gods had just dumped out a giant chess set before they set up for a game. Roofing the courtyard was a black trellis that supported grapevines with fruit as big as plums. What was left of the day's light filtered through the leaves, giving the room a majestic green hue.

Remembering the incident with the apple, the first thing I did was place my hand on a vine and ask nicely if I could have a grape. 'NO YOU MAY NOT!' The answer came back so clear it made my head hurt. These were proud plants.

The speedy adventure carried me along very nicely and didn't ask anything too difficult of me. I see there's a sequel out now, so that'll definitely be worth a look. Yeah. Very enjoyable stuff for a quick read. My metaphorical feet didn't touch the ground throughout.

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