The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone
|The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone
|Category: Confident Readers
|Reviewer: Anne Thompson
|Summary: Moll and her wildcat, Gryff, embark on an adventure of magic, danger and excitement as they try to save Moll's family and friends from the dark magic threatened by the evil Skull. A fantasy for those who love stories about friendship, loyalty and bravery too.
|Date: February 2015
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster
|External links: Author's website
Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2016
Twelve year old Moll wakes in the night to find herself deep in the dark forest. The nightmare that haunts her sleep has brought her to a place of danger, summoned there by the evil Skull and his wicked sorcery. Moll and her fiercely protective wildcat, Gryff, must fight back against the dark magic before it is too late. At first she does not understand why she has been chosen for the task but as her chilling adventure continues Moll learns more about her past and the part it will play in saving those she loves from Skull and the horror he threatens.
The first in a new series by debut children's author Abi Elphinstone this is a thrilling adventure full of magic, danger and excitement. Although fantasy is not usually my first choice of genre in children's literature I was completely won over by this story. This was partly due to the writing style. The story moves quickly with twists and turns and the short chapters frequently end on a cliffhanger or unexpected turn in events, something that should hook young readers in quickly. The descriptions are excellent and bring Moll's world in the woods vividly to life whilst in no way slowing the pace of the story. However my favourite aspect of the book was the characterisation and the slightly slower passages when the characters engaged with each other and shared their histories and their hopes for what the success of their quest may bring.
Moll is an interesting character, impulsive, maybe even reckless, but brave and loyal too. Her young friend Siddy with his pet earthworm adds a touch of humour but it is Alfie who I found the most intriguing and I will be looking forward to finding out more about him in the next installment. The blurb on the book cover describes Moll's relationship with Gryff as Pullman-esque and it is true there are similarities to Lyra and her Daemon. Some aspects of the story reminded me a little of C S Lewis's Lucy and Aslan too. Certainly Moll and Gryff's friendship is a hugely important part of the story and left me, a confirmed dog lover, wanting a Gryff of my own.
In Skull and his evil accomplices the author has created truly terrifying villains but the terror and dark magic aspects of the story are balanced by the good in the main characters. Stories set in other worlds enable children to act out a battle between the forces of good and evil in the safety of a book. Oak, the man who cares for Moll, is as his names suggests, solid and dependable and it is he who guides Moll encouraging her not to give up when things go wrong or when life does not appear fair. Children can learn much from the underlying message and themes contained in the story.
The Dreamsnatcher will probably appeal to readers who enjoy the early Harry Potter books and I have a feeling that the second in the series will be eagerly anticipated. Recommended.
If young readers enjoy this type of story the Bookbag has put together a list of the Top Ten Books for Young Readers That Feature a Passage Between Worlds which you may find helpful. My personal favourites are The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis which in my view deserve six stars! You might also appreciate Gabriel's Clock by Hilton Pashley.
The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone is in the Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2015.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone at Amazon.com.
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