'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 25 August 2011

Review: The Red Wind

This is my first Carmody novel and I was very excited about starting it. No.1 in her new The Kingdom of the Lost series, The Red Wind is divided into three sections - stonefall, rainfall and heartfall.

In Stonefall, we meet two furry little creatures - Bily and Zluty - who live on a barren plain in a beautiful little cottage. The brothers hatched from a strange metal egg and have no relatives nor knowledge of where they're from.

When a strange red mist appears in the far off sky, the brothers are filled with dread, most especially as Zluty's pilgrimage to the Northern Forest to search for supplies for the long winter is due. Homebody Bily must stay at home as the more adventurous Zluty heads north.

Thankfully, Zluty instinctively hurries his long journey, arriving a day ahead of schedule - and just in time - the rest mist from the west has turned into a shocking storm, with thundering stones falling from the sky. Zluty takes shelter in the forest while back at the cottage, mild-mannered Bily is forced to flee to the cellar with his bird friends and their nests - only to become trapped by the falling stones.

How will Bily free himself, and what of the frightening monster that suddenly appears in the cellar? Can Zluty make it home in time to rescue Bily?

The drama and heartfelt pain these characters go through is masterfully written by Carmody. Her descriptives and detail - from the interior of the cottage to the emotion and fear felt by her characters is beautifully imparted. I actually felt frightened when the monster appeared in Bily's cellar - and I found that a startling occurrence. It's therefore clear that the atmospheric setting of scenes and character development is something Carmody does very well.

But it is the magical storyline that sets up the scene for a fascinating series ahead. The author has placed her plot points strategically and the reader is left wanting more - wanting to know what where who when and why. There are plenty of tantalising questions left unanswered and these are the hooks that will lead one into subsequent books in the series.

My only criticism of this book would be the language Carmody uses. I found her sentence structure and placement of words awkward at times - surprisingly so. There was many a time I found myself re-reading sentences to make sense of them - either the flow was off or the meaning of the sentence was almost completely lost. There were several sentences I simply didn't understand, despite several re-readings. I found this intriguing and wonder if this is an editing fault.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed my first Carmody book and I'm looking foward to learning more about those most charming yet mysterious furry brothers.

Title: The Red Wind
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Publisher: Viking, $19.95 RRP
Format: Hard cover
Publication date: 28 June 2010
ISBN: 9780670074037
For ages: 8-12
Type: Junior Fiction

See KBR's interview with Isobelle Carmody here.