Hootcat Hill by Lucy Coats

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Hootcat Hill by Lucy Coats

Buy Hootcat Hill by Lucy Coats at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley
Reviewed by Jason Mark Curley
Summary: When the Worldwyrm awakes, the Maiden must conquer her fears and send it back into its slumber. A thrilling fantasy romp!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: March 2008
Publisher: Orion Childrens
ISBN: 978-1842556146

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Hootcat Hill tells the story of Linnet Perry, a young girl who lives in the strange village of Wyrmesbury. Born with one eye blue and the other green, and a mole like a trefoil behind her right ear, she is known by a group of humans and animals called the Guardians, to be the Maiden – a mystical figure from the past, and the only person capable of stopping the Worldwym (a powerful being created by the same magic that made the earth) should it wake from its slumber.

On the day after she dreams that her best friend has been eaten by the Wyrm, she finds out he has gone missing. At school, she is bullied as normal. The children call her the Weirdo of Wyrmesbury, punch her and pull her hair, but this time they are driven off by small flying creatures with blue wings and spears. They tell Linnet they are the Protectors of the Maiden.

Later that night she settles in her garden to do her homework, her new protectors come back and she is taken to meet the Guardians on Hootcat Hill. She's told who she really is and that the Worldwyrm has really awoken. Linnet will have to embrace her true power to send it back to sleep.

I have to say that when I first unwrapped this book I was totally struck by the packaging and design. The people at Orion books have outdone themselves by producing what can only be described as a modern artefact. Everything, including the cover, line drawings, font and layout have been done to thrilling perfection.

From a technical point of view, this book is well written. Coats has a masterful command of language, especially with the descriptions of this weird world. Because the village of Wyrmesbury itself is portrayed as being slightly strange and mystical in comparison to the rest of the world, it's hard to tell if this is set in our world or not. That isn't something made entirely clear (though I'm not sure it needs to be).

Linnet is a great character, full of gusto and teenage rebellion. A major part of this story (and one of the central themes of the novel) is how she overcomes her fears and doubts, especially with regard to the constant bullying she is subjected to at school, and comes to accept her place in this strange society. The story is fantastic and world is well conceived, though I think Coats has a tendency to over explain things at times, rather than let the story flow.

This leads to the main issues I had with this novel, which were with its constant jumping between characters, especially when it needn't have done so at all. At the start of the novel, the focus is often taken off Linnet as peripheral characters go into a lot of unneeded exposition. This invariably involves lots of strange sounding names that just wash over you, as they have little inherent meaning and haven't been introduced via the plot. We're often told things before Linnet gets to know about them, and this isn't used in any way to provide dramatic irony, so seems a little pointless.

My worry here is that though this book seems to be packaged for the 8-11 market, I think it might only be finished by more advanced readers. I suspect a lot of younger readers might put this book down in the first few chapters; it could take a lot of perseverance to get through all that exposition.

The other aspect of the book I'm also not sure about is the constant replacement of the letter Y for vowels in certain words to make them sound magycal/wyrd [see what I mean?]. It's a minor quibble, but it just became downright annoying by the end of the novel.

Having said that, I enjoyed this book on the whole; when it gets going it really gets going. If you do enjoy this I would check out The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien and Triskellion by Will Peterson.

My thanks to Orion for sending this review copy.

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Buy Hootcat Hill by Lucy Coats at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hootcat Hill by Lucy Coats at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Hootcat Hill by Lucy Coats at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hootcat Hill by Lucy Coats at Amazon.com.


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