The Truth Sayer by Sally Prue
|The Truth Sayer by Sally Prue|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: First in a promising series about a boy from another world gifted with huge powers. Great fun to read with lots of magic and comforting coming-of-age metaphors.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: May 2007|
|Publisher: Oxford University Press|
Nian is a special boy. He has powers. He can predict the future and see into people's minds. In Nian's world, such special boys are taken away by the Tarhun to the Holy Mountain, never to be seen again. So Nian tries to hide his gifts. But when the Tarhun finally come, they trick him into revealing himself and Nian finds himself locked away in the House of Truth - a place in which his powers will never be used as they should be, for the benefit of all.
Jacob is a young boy squashed into a tiny house with an angry sister, a self-pitying depressed father, a cantakerous grandmother, an over-worked mother and not even the tiniest of spaces to call his own. Jacob hears noises coming from the fireplace in his front room, clear echoes of other worlds, some good, some bad, but all more interesting than his own, mundane surroundings.
Each world is like a cogged wheel inside a clock. The teeth fit together as the wheels rotate and as they fit, small passageways between them can be opened by those with power. And Nian has more power than any other living being across all the worlds. In his desperation to escape the cloying, stifling House of Truth, he steps from his world to Jacob's... and all hell breaks loose.
The Truth Sayer is the first in a series of books about Nian. He's a wonderful character; passionate, impulsive, strong and intelligent. At first, he is a reluctant hero, wanting nothing more than to return home and take care of the land and the animals. But gradually, as his powers grow and his experiences mature him, he comes to understand that our roots are what make us and what save us, but they aren't necessarily all that we are. With or without magic, this is something all children need to learn and as a coming of age metaphor it works well in this book. It isn't preachy or pious, but it is there.
The supporting cast is good too. Jacob is distinguished as the only person in his family who always says what he means. Everybody else says one thing while thinking another. Sometimes this doublespeak is kindly meant and sometimes it's really deception. Nian has to figure this out, just as any child has to figure out the range of meanings existing in different social situations. Truth is good but white lies aren't always bad. Nian comes to understand this subtle ambiguity through his interactions with Jacob's rather dysfunctional family.
Happily, the book ends neatly and satisfyingly, and we're not left feeling obliged to buy number two in the series. I think though, that most children would be pleased to discover that Nian is likely to visit another world, this time perhaps not our world, some time soon. Easy to read and well-plotted, The Truth Sayer is a comforting and kindly fantasy read for 9s and up. We enjoyed it.
My thanks to the publishers for sending the book.
If your child enjoys stories about children with magical powers, they might also enjoy P R Morrison's The Wind Tamer. Older children might enjoy the more complicated ideas about travel between worlds in Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time.
The Truth Sayer by Sally Prue is in the Top Ten Books for Young Readers That Feature a Passage Between Worlds.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Truth Sayer by Sally Prue at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Truth Sayer by Sally Prue at Amazon.com.
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