The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

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The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sean Barrs
Reviewed by Sean Barrs
Summary: Smokeroon is a world full of wonderment and bizarreness, though such a place becomes Emily's safe haven after the death of her sister in this short yet bitter-sweet novel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: October 2017
Publisher: Faber & Faber
ISBN: 978-0571310845

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The best fantasy books for children rely on escapism, books like The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Harry Potter series and [Pan]. Central to each of these stories is the real world: the dryness that permeates the everyday. The children involved are often bored of their lives, or of school and their parents: the world of reality. So when they get to escape into a world that is much more interesting they are enamoured by a sense of magic and adventure that comes their way. For Kate Saunders' heroine Emily, the bizarre and eerily familiar world of Smockeroon awaits.

Like Neverland and Wonderland for Wendy and Alice, the new world makes little sense to Emily. It is mystical and otherworldly. She is met by strange people (and toys) with even stranger habits and dress senses. Emily's life is undeniably a sad one; she has recently lost her sister (Holly) before beginning her adventures. It was her who first told Emily of Smockeroon, the land her family thought was merely fictitious. Holly would tell them of this place and they would listen with patience and in good humour before she passed away. But now, after her loss, Emily finds herself transported to what she thought was make-believe.

What I saw in such a thing was the need for stories and escape when dealing with bereavement and heartache. Fantasy and imagination are a large part of what it is to be human, and sometimes we really do need them. Emily gets her wish; she manages to cope through temporarily escaping to a new place in order to adjust to the realities of loss. Although the novel is fairly short, Emily undergoes much in the way of character development. She overcomes her initial trepidations and fears, growing as a person. By the end she even begins to understand herself a little bit better along with life itself.

Smokeroon expands as the story progresses, and it becomes clear that such a name was merely what Holly gave it. Imagination is the key, the dream of another land; it propels the story forward as Emily looks for answers. On her way she encounters other people and their imaginations combine to form The Land of Neverendings. I loved the idea behind it, the possibility that this other world could be shaped and reached by a multitude of people in need of it. Their ideas become mixed up and their thoughts leaked into each other to create something rather individual. It all pushed even further towards a rather strong resolution.

Saunders writes with clarity and is able to mix very adult themes with a children's narrative. Despite dealing with issues such as loss and death, the prose is colourful and this new world remains rather enchanting, quirky and unique. The book has the potential to be enjoyed by adults and children alike and I especially recommend it to those that enjoy dark fantasy books such as Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

If you like the sound of this then it's also worth checking out Thornhill by Pam Smy.

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Buy The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders at


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