The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison

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The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley
Reviewed by Jason Mark Curley
Summary: A dark dark novel in a world of mystery and fairies with attitude.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: January 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1847384492

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Tanya is a thirteen year old girl with chestnut-coloured hair and dark, expressive eyes. She is naturally curious; in her younger years she could not resist the thrill of searching for the rumoured secret passages in her grandmother's house. But from a young age she knew there was something different about her: she was able to see things others were not. She could see the denizens of the fairy world, and they seemed to be everywhere.

As she grew older they have become more offended by her ability to see them and worse still, actually write about them. Of course, no adult would believe such stories anyway, and with her interactions with these creatures becoming increasingly violent and vindictive, they seem to her rational mother, nothing more than teenage temper tantrums. One night, the fairies' reprisals are so harsh, they bring down the light fitting along with part of the ceiling in Tanya's room. This is the final straw for her mother and she's sent away to live in her grandmother's house.

In the house, the discovery of an old photograph reveals the story of girl who disappeared in the surrounding forest, fifty years ago. No amount of cajoling will get the truth about this incident from her grandmother, and provides her with an irresistible mystery to solve. Tanya quickly finds a partner in crime: Fabian, the groundskeeper's son. Danger hangs in the air when a mysterious old woman, who watches Tanya from a distance, seems to have the same powers of vision that Tanya possesses herself – the second sight.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The story itself is both dark and gripping and the imagery is fantastic. Harrison has a real talent for description; the sense of place is extremely strong and takes you right into this world. Sometimes the action seems to be a little muddled and not conveyed well enough for the reader to get in an instant, but this is only a major problem in the early chapters.

The characters are fantastic. Fabian, the groundskeeper's son is a very well defined character and somewhat of a shadow figure to begin with. He's darker and more brooding than Tanya herself, and this is a clear indication of the novel's dark and sinister tone.

The greatest strength in this book is the reworking and redefinition of the fairies and their world. They aren't all happy little elves who sit in flowerbeds at the bottom of the garden idling away an idyllic life. Their world seems as real and consistent as our own; many of them are selfish and some seem downright nasty. All good stuff!

If there's one overall criticism of the book it's that in certain places it can seem a little flat and a little predictable, but this is a minor concern and with the overall quality of the work, it's probably something you won't even notice when the grip of the story overtakes you. Overall this is a good solid read.

If you like this kind of book, you should definitely go and read Triskellian, which I've also reviewed.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending me this copy.

Booklists.jpg The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison is in the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2009.

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Buy The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison at


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