My Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke

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Title: My Lovely Frankie

Author: Judith Clarke

Genre: YA Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 28th June 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 224

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: A masterful, moving story about a teenage boy caught between faith and love, by one of Australia’s finest YA writers.

‘Frankie believed in Heaven quite literally, as if it was another lovely world out past the stars. And when he spoke the word “love”, it seemed to spring free and fly into the air like a beautiful balloon you wanted to run after. But I couldn’t tell my parents about Frankie, not properly. I told them I’d made friends with the boy in the room next to mine, and how he’d come from this little town out west. I couldn’t tell them how he was becoming the best thing in my world. I couldn’t tell anyone, I hardly admitted it to myself.’

In the 1950s, ‘entering’ the seminary was forever, and young boys were gathered into the priesthood before they were old enough to know what they would lose. Tom went to St Finbar’s because he was looking for something more than the ordinary happiness of his home and school.

But then he discovered that being able to love another person was the most important thing of all. For Tom, loving Frankie made him part of the world. Even when Frankie was gone…

~*~

aww2017-badgeSet during a time when entering the seminary was for life, with some boys sent there from a very young age, unable to know or discover what they would be giving up, and a time when homosexuality was something that wasn’t spoken about , or accepted, and given different names, or described differently, being able to talk about how you felt was hard. What My Lovely Frankie does is take a young boy, just realising he is gay, and entering St Finbar’s with a desire to join the seminary, on his journey of the conflict he finds between the love he feels for someone that society tells him he shouldn’t, and the faith he has followed in his heart, into a priesthood. Tom tells the story as he is nearing the end of his life to his cousin Miri, who has always known, and accepts him for who he is. In the world they grew up in, the gay couple Tom’s parents knew are accepted by Tom and his family, and his father always says “Love is love.” Clarke moves easily from Tom’s narration as an elderly man into the voice of a sixteen year old boy, discovering what love and faith mean, and finding a way to accept who he is.

Entering St FInbar’s later than most of the boys. Tom is befriended by Frankie, sent there by his father for something he shouldn’t have done with a girl – had sex – as a punishment, yet to Frankie, it is almost a sanctuary. He is friendly and bubbly, and takes Tom on as a friend almost immediately upon meeting him. As Tom tells the reader, Frankie always did things his way: arriving at the school, caring for the younger kids such as Hay, who might need food or a handkerchief, or even just reaching out for Tom, who escorts him to a dentist and then keeps his secrets about his feelings for one of the St Brigid’s girls. Frankie is not gay, but still loves Tom, still loves those who care for him, but in a different way to how Tom does. Tom uses his love to try and protect Frankie from Etta, the bully who spies on everyone and reports to the Rector to get those he feels need punishing in trouble. Together, Tom and Frankie work – the love they share, though different for each boy, is written beautifully and with great care and sensitivity.

Though heartbreaking in the knowledge that Tom will never be able to tell Frankie how he feels, telling the story of an LGBTQ+ character in the 1950s, where it is not accepted and fear can prevent people from revealing their true selves, as it did with Tom – he always knew but also knew he would not be accepted, and the fear that Frankie would think less of him – My Lovely Frankie reveals that the love of a friendship can be just as powerful as romantic love, and examines how faith and love are at times, in conflict with each other and how this affected someone like Tom.

I fell in love with Frankie and his exuberance and kindness towards just about everyone, and the way he just accepted Tom as a friend the first time they met. Reading and watching their friendship grow, I hoped that things would work out nicely for Tom and Frankie, that maybe they would fall in love – and perhaps they did, but in different ways for each of them. I felt it celebrated the differences in love, and highlighted the importance of accepting yourself for who you are, and not what others expect you to be, or to see yourself as a mirror of another who might share your feelings. I felt though there was tragedy and heartbreak, this made it more realistic for me, the unrequited love, the unspoken love, because it is probably something quite relatable for many people, whoever they love from afar.

It is a great book for any YA readers and fans, and Judith Clarke has tackled this subject matter sensitively and in an accessible way that does not present too much darkness, yet at the same time, is telling readers that it is okay to be who you are.

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The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless

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Title: The Dream Walker

Author: Victoria Carless

Genre: YA Literary Fiction

Publisher: Hachette/Lothian

Published: 27th June 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 265

Price: $19.99Synopsis: The weight of a secret can drag you under . . .

A tender coming-of-age young-adult novel for fans of Gary Crew, Vikki Wakefield and Craig Silvey.

Sixteen-year-old Lucy Hart has been counting the days till she can get the hell out of Digger’s Landing – a small Queensland fishing hamlet home to fifteen families, a posse of mongrel dogs, and Parkers Corner Store (no apostrophe and nowhere near a corner).

But just like the tides Lucy’s luck is on the turn, and as graduation nears her escape plans begin to falter; her best friend, Polly, is dropping out of school to help pay the bills, and Tom has been shipped off to boarding school, away from the flotsam of this place. And then there’s Lucy’s nightlife, which is filled with dreams that just don’t seem to belong to her at all . . .

When the fish stop biting, like they did when her mum was still around, Lucy realises she isn’t the only one with a secret.

~*~

aww2017-badgeVictoria Carless’s debut novel out this June, The Dream Walker, is Lucy Hart’s story in the year following her mother’s death, beginning with a fishing trip that results in a lack of fish, and ongoing accusations hurled at Lucy and her father, usually by the bully of Digger’s Landing, Gavin Lawler, whose bullying extends beyond the school bus, to his youngest sister and anyone else he perceives as weak. Lucy’s coping with the loss of her mother, driven to her death by a myriad of things, secrets that Lucy has been trying to uncover, the departure of her good friend Tom to boarding school in the city, and the ongoing bullying the Lawlers, led by Gavin, haul at her any time they can. She is counting the days until she can leave, and find her own place, away from the whispering and the stares, away from the accusations that her and her father are taking more than their share of fish during a time the fish aren’t biting and the fishing economy of Digger’s Landing is flopping around like a fish out of water, gasping for breath. In all of this, Lucy’s only friend is her dog, Glen, who knows her secrets, and who never leaves her side. At school, at least at the start of the year, she has her best friend Polly, the first friend she made when she moved with her parents to Digger’s Landing, who shares her Islander heritage (it is not specified which nation) and food with Lucy, until her father sends her off to work, forcing her to drop out of school to help the family make ends meet. After this, Lucy’s world begins to unravel. She is targeted and bullied by Gavin, and is dealing with her own grief, and her father’s, following her mother’s death. Her only distraction, helping alcoholic Syd Lawler, Gavin’s father, learn to read is short lived, and she is plagued by dreams that aren’t hers – dreams that belong to the people of Digger’s Landing. At first, Lucy is surprised that her dreaming has led her to dream about Mrs Parker, and the bus driver, Mr Sheriff, and a drowning boy, who keeps appearing. Is it Tom, her friend who has run away to the city, harbouring his own secrets about where he wants to go, and who he really is? His secrets that he has to hide from his parents, from everyone at Digger’s Landing, because they might not accept him for who he is are ones he’s too scared to share with Lucy, the one person who would have accepted him for who he is. Or is it someone else who is lost, with the water so far over their head, they can’t cope. Or is it more literal, and a dark omen of events that are yet to happen? Lucy is determined to find out, but with everyone keeping secrets, including her, will it be too late to do anything? Or will her own secret be revealed, and used against her?

At the beginning of the novel, all the Lawler siblings are shown as bullies, who think they own Digger’s Landing and who think they can always get their way, and not get caught out. It soon transpires that little Sadie is mistreated and bullied, and she runs away, to the safety of Glen and Lucy, and when Gavin and older sister Talia are bullying Lucy, she stands by her side, refusing to leave and go home where she is no doubt bullied further. Sadie ends up helping Lucy towards the end, and I like to think that little Sadie got a happy ending of sorts, away from a mother and siblings who didn’t notice when she ran away or wore the same clothes for a week.

The Dream Walker is heart breaking but at the same time, hopeful, yet realistic. Whilst the instances of bullying are not graphic, they are enough to grab your attention and they are well written, and hopefully, it will start a conversation about the themes explored in this literary fiction for young adults aged fourteen and older about alcohol, suicide, bullying and grief to help them deal with bullying or grief throughout their lives.

A surreal story set in a real world, a town failing to make ends meet, where everyone is fighting for survival against each other, and a town where anyone who is different in any way is a target for harassment and bullying. Within this novel, Victoria Carless eloquently deals with themes of bullying and harassment, suicide, grief and alcoholism, showing how being bullied can impact you, and how isolation because you’re different and feel you might not be accepted can lead to tragedies or near tragedies, and the fracturing of families within a town, allowing readers to engage with these themes through the characters and learn about them and how they can impact and change lives. It is a story that has moments of hope and moments of darkness. It has small triumphs but not so small failures, and it has a realistic ending – where not everything works out in a happily ever after, but resolves what needs to be resolved, and allows the reader to imagine the rest for themselves.

#LoveOzYa #AWW2017

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 20th Anniversary Edition: Ravenclaw

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raven-hb-20Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 20th Anniversary Edition: Ravenclaw

Author: JK Rowling

Genre: Fantasy, Children’s Literature

Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia

Published: June 2017 (20th Anniversary Editions)

Format: Paperback/Hardcover

Pages: 352

Price: Paperback: $16.99, Hardback: $27.99

Synopsis: Celebrate 20 years of Harry Potter magic with four special editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw … Twenty years ago these magical words and many more flowed from a young writer’s pen, an orphan called Harry Potter was freed from the cupboard under the stairs – and a global phenomenon started. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been read and loved by every new generation since. To mark the 20th anniversary of first publication, Bloomsbury is publishing four House Editions of J.K. Rowling’s modern classic. These stunning editions will each feature the individual house crest on the jacket and line illustrations exclusive to that house, by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Levi Pinfold. Exciting new extra content will include fact files and profiles of favourite characters, and each book will have sprayed edges in the house colours. Available for a limited period only, these highly collectable editions will be a must-have for all Harry Potter fans in 2017.

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

~*~

raven-20Most of us know the story, we’ve read the series more times than we can count and seen each movie multiple times, and would probably blitz it in a Harry Potter trivia quiz. We know Hogwarts just as well as our own homes, know Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the Weasley clan, as well as the teachers as Hogwarts like old friends, and we know that in the end, all will be well. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter, and to celebrate this occassion, Bloomsbury have re-released the first book in house colours in hard cover and paperback. The hard cover book has a black slip cover, with the house crest in the respective colour – so blue for Ravenclaw, with blue and bronze strip sprayed edges on the pages. The paperback of Ravenclaw is blue with black imagery and bronze text and blue edges. Each is exquisite, and the other houses are done in the same way with their respective liveries and colours.

Before the story starts, we are treated to additional information about the founder of Ravenclaw, Rowena Ravenclaw, information about the livery – a raven, in the centre, and flanked by an owl and another raven, with a swan and a fox atop the livery on either side of a sharp arrow. This, along with other illustrations, have been completed by Levi Pinfold, and give a delightful insight into what the founder of Ravenclaw looks like, which enhances the additional information about her and the house, which includes information on the house ghost, The Grey Lady, and notable students, such as Luna Lovegood, Moaning Myrtle and Gilderoy Lockhart, perhaps the most inept Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Hogwarts ever had, as well as head of house, Charms Professor, Filius Flitwick.

Each respective house edition has these same features in relation to Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.

hp20_230In Harry’s world, we are treated to characters that will stay with us, and that will be well loved and treasured. With each character growing over the series, it will be interesting to see how Bloomsbury tops each subsequent 20th anniversary after this one, whether it will be books or events held across the world.

Between these informative sections, is the original story, still the same, still magical, and still welcoming. The characters haven’t changed, ensuring that readers of all ages, new and old, will come to the series finding the same thing, and being able to share the same story in whatever way they come to enjoy it. The additions of Levi Pinfold’s illustrations and the house information enhance the experience, and make for a delightful and colourful collection if you choose to get each house edition for your collection. It is a story that will live on, and the magic doesn’t die as you read and read it again. I discover something new with each read, and I thoroughly enjoy reading my Ravenclaw edition.

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Choose your house and enjoy, and if you can, head to Harry Potter 20th Anniversary celebrations near you!

Death at Victoria Dock By Kerry Greenwood

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Title: Death at Victoria Dock (Phryne Fisher #4)

Author: Kerry Greenwood

Genre: Crime

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: First published 1992, this edition published March 2005.

Format: Paperback

Pages: 186

Price: $22.95

Synopsis: Phryne Fisher returns in her fourth magical mystery amidst bullets, sexy ex-anarchists, furs, tattooists and silken lingerie.

The devastating Phryne Fisher is under fire again in her fourth mystery.

A very young man with muddied hair, a pierced ear and a blue tattoo lies cradled in Phryne’s arms. But sadly it’s not another scene of glorious seduction – this time it’s death.

The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher, beautifully dressed in loose trousers, a cream silk shirt and a red-fox fur has just had her windscreen shot out inches in front of her divine nose. But worse is the fate of the pale young man lying on the road, his body hit by bullets, who draws his final blood-filled breath with Phryne at his side.

Outraged by this brutal slaughter, Phryne promises to find out who is responsible. But Phryne doesn’t yet know how deeply into the mire she’ll have to go – bank robbery, tattoo parlours, pubs, spiritualist halls and the Anarchists.

Along this path, Phryne meets Peter, a battle-scarred, sexy Slav, who offers much more to her than just information. But all thoughts of these delights flee from Phryne’s mind when her beloved maid, Dot, disappears. There’s nothing Phryne won’t do to get her back safely.

~*~

aww2017-badgeKerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher is back, and solving another mystery. This time, she must work with ex-anarchists to uncover who killed the young man who died in her silk clad arms, and find out what has happened to a young girl, Alicia Waddington-Forsythe, who attends the same school as her adopted daughters, Jane and Ruth, and why she has gone missing. Managing both cases, she goes from adoring hostess and mother to undercover anarchist with a change of clothes, and finds that there is one named Peter, who catches her eye in more ways than one, and her style certainly catches his attention, and devotion. He becomes her go between in the anarchist world, and assists her in the case, eager to help, keen to see justice done, whoever the killer is. As usual, the Butlers are there, keeping the secrets that come through the house, as is Dot, who is becoming more and more adventurous with each story, but still maintains her innocence despite Phryne’s influence, and Bert and Cec are always on hand when she needs them.

Throughout the series, Kerry Greenwood’s titular character straddles the divide between what is expected of a woman of the 1920s in Australia and of her class station, yet at the same time, steps away from this as often as possible, feeling comfortable in both skins, knowing a world of poverty and war, and a world of wealth and comfort. Neither world escapes death or disappearance and scandal, though, and this is why she is able to engage so fluidly in both and understand how both worlds work, and the struggles and privileges she herself has been through drive her sense of self and dogged sense of justice, even if she is a tad unorthodox in how she solves crimes, worrying Constable Collins and Detective Inspector Robinson, yet at the same time, they watch in awe as she gets results and access that they can only dream of as they have to work within the confines of the law. Phryne, as a private detective, is not as constrained.

Book four does not disappoint. It has everything from murder to mayhem, order and intrigue, mystery and how society views outsiders and the consequences to people’s indiscretions, crimes and assumptions. Not only does Kerry Greenwood turn gender roles and expectations on their head, and show the spectrum of what women did in the late 1920s, but also turns society on it’s head, showing the flaws in class divisions and how class and status don’t make you better or worse than someone in a class below: in fact, having a character who has experienced both ends of the spectrum allows for the flaws, and the good and the bad for each level in the social structure to be revealed for what they are. The characters are also very Australian, ensuring that the Aussie flavour of literature is well served in bookstores and libraries for Australian readers keen to see their world in books.

Phryne excels in Death at Victoria Dock with the dual mystery to solve, and sets out to achieve results in both cases and in furthering her personal relationships in true Phryne Fisher style, often much to the horror of her maid Dot, who still goes along with whatever Phryne has planned, though makes her concerns known. What i enjoy about this series is that the characters are not merely stereotypes but that their layers and personalities shine through and each book reveals more about them, and shows their growth. It is an engaging series that I am working my way through, and hope to have finished by the end of this year as part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.

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Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

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Title: Running On The Roof Of The World

Author: Jess Butterworth

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Hachette/Orion Children’s Books

Published: 13th June 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 280

Price: $15.99

Synopsis: Join 12-year-old Tash and her best friend Sam in a story of adventure, survival and hope, set in the vivid Himalayan landscape of Tibet and India. Filled with friendship, love and courage, this young girl’s thrilling journey to save her parents is an ideal read for children aged 9-12.

There are two words that are banned in Tibet. Two words that can get you locked in prison without a second thought. I watch the soldiers tramping away and call the words after them. ‘Dalai Lama.’

Tash has to follow many rules to survive in Tibet, a country occupied by Chinese soldiers. But when a man sets himself on fire in protest and soldiers seize Tash’s parents, she and her best friend Sam must break the rules. They are determined to escape Tibet – and seek the help of the Dalai Lama himself in India.

And so, with a backpack of Tash’s father’s mysterious papers and two trusty yaks by their side, their extraordinary journey across the mountains begins.

~*~

Set in modern day Tibet, still under the harsh regime occupation of Communist China, Tash (Tashi-la) and Sam (Samdup) are on their way home from school when they witness the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk protesting the ongoing Chinese occupation that began 1949. In quick succession, their lives are turned upside down as Tash’s parents are taken away by the Wujing, forcing Tash and Sam to run from their village, beginning a trek across the Himalayas with their yaks, Bones and Eve, in search of the Dalai Lama and safety in India. Together, the two friends keep the secret backpack safe, and hide from the soldiers who patrol the borders to make sure nobody escapes. Sam and Tash’s friendship is tested, as they go in search of the Dalai Lama and deliver a message for the secret resistance that Tash’s father is part of. Together, they are as strong as the yaks that accompany them. If they separate, not only their friendship will falter.

Running on the Roof of the World is a story about friendship, and about freedom. It shows the difficulties faced by those in oppressed nations, and what people are willing to do – risk their safety, and their lives – to bring atrocities to the world’s attention – but at an easy to understand level for children and teenagers, who are curious but maybe not ready for in depth or more complex discussion. It is aso a good introduction to Tibet and the Chinese occupation, and the Dalai Lama, and what the process of running from oppression can be like. Through the Tibetan characters, Jess Butterworth illustrates that not everyone can be trusted, and sometimes, those who you think are the least trust-worthy, can become your allies and help you at the end of your journey.

Tackling a complex issue in a simple way, Running on the Roof of the World gives a human face to refugees where it is much needed, and does so in an area of the world we don’t often hear much about in the news. The characters show that you do not have to accept the hand that you have been dealt, and there is always a way to forge a new path, and celebrates a friendship between a young boy and girl, which is refreshing to see, as well as seeing characters from another culture and nation in literature for children and is a step towards diversity in all fiction.

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Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott

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Title: Rotherweird

Author: Andrew Caldecott

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Hachette Australia/Jo Fletcher Books

Published: 16th May 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 460

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: Welcome to Rotherweird: a town with no maps, no guidebooks and no history, but many many secrets . . . A stunning combination of JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL and GORMENGHAST with a dash of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

‘Intricate and crisp, witty and solemn: a book with special and dangerous properties,’ Hilary Mantel

‘Baroque, Byzantine and beautiful – not to mention bold’ M.R. Carey

Rotherweird is twisted, arcane murder-mystery with shades of Deborah Harkness, Hope Mirrlees and Ben Aaronovitch, Mervyn Peake and Edward Gorey at their disturbing best.

The town of Rotherweird stands alone – there are no guidebooks, despite the fascinating and diverse architectural styles cramming the narrow streets, the avant garde science and offbeat customs. Cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I, Rotherweird’s independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.

For beneath the enchanting surface lurks a secret so dark that it must never be rediscovered, still less reused.

But secrets have a way of leaking out.

Two inquisitive outsiders have arrived: Jonah Oblong, to teach modern history at Rotherweird School (nothing local and nothing before 1800), and the sinister billionaire Sir Veronal Slickstone, who has somehow got permission to renovate the town’s long-derelict Manor House.

Slickstone and Oblong, though driven by conflicting motives, both strive to connect past and present, until they and their allies are drawn into a race against time – and each other. The consequences will be lethal and apocalyptic.

Welcome to Rotherweird!

~*~

Rotherweird is a town in England, that has been self-governing since Elizabethan times, and though they are firmly in the twenty-first century now, modern technology does not exist or work here. Following expulsion from England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the first, Rotherweird is a town of anachronisms and history, fantasy and tragedy, but also comedy – making the story a sort of historical tragi-comedy. In Rotherweird, outsiders are not always welcome, and treated with suspicion. The arrival of Jonah Oblong, to be the new history teacher for Form IV, and the sinister billionaire, Sir Veronal Slickstone, set a series of events that will end in tragedy in motion, and lead to further books, which I hope will answer any questions Rotherweird didn’t.

History appears to be important in Rotherweird – as long as it’s not local history or any history prior to 1800 – it will be interesting to see how this is explored in the next book, Wyntertide. Rotherweird is split into six months, and before each month in our time begins, a section of Old History is told – this is the history not taught at the school Oblong is employed at, but that he and Slickstone are working to bring back, though each through different means. In Elizabethan times, Queen Elizabeth I seeks to get rid of the talented children of Rotherweird that she sees as a threat, and Rotherweird’s concealment of them leads to the execution of one of it’s citizens, and thus, Queen Elizabeth I cutting it off from the rest of England.

The Old History sections act as world building through plot, and this is very effective, as is the technique of holding things back, and the hints dropped about Slickstone as Oblong delves into local history, which is forbidden, yet with the arrival of Slickstone, who has permission to renovate the derelict Manor House, Old History and Local History begin leaking out, and not only to the two men trying to look into it and reinvigorate it in Rotherweird.

It is an enjoyable book, where history, fantasy, tragedy and comedy collide in new and unusual ways, to create a novel that is full of intrigue and mystery, and characters that aren’t quite what they seem to be, in a world that is modern yet at the same time, not really that modern, filled with characters who will begin to question the way things are as tragedy begins to strike at people they care for, people who previously had no interest in the world outside of the history they knew, such as Orelia Roc, begin to wonder about that history.

Much like a Shakespeare play, the cast of characters is given at the front, divided into the groups that they represent. In the novel, notes between the characters are handwritten – in Modern English but in the script that can be found in historical documents, where an s can look like an f – though I found these to be readable, and it didn’t take me long to get used to this – having read some such documents, I felt this is what helped me to work this out.

Each section is interspersed with wonderful and magical illustrations by Sasha Laika. These illustrations enrich the story and give it further sense of wonder and fantasy. Rotherweird’s Elizabethan feel in a modern style of writing is magically appealing and I gobbled it up in under a week, the short chapters flying by within minutes, with a decent pace, and nicely balanced telling and showing, it is a delightful novel with a sense of mystery that I enjoy in my reading.

A great read, perhaps aimed at teenagers and adults, it will hopefully become a favourite for many,

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Unsung Heroes: The House Elves of Harry Potter

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There are many heroes in Harry Potter: James and Lily Potter, whose selfless sacrifice leaves their son an orphan, but is never forgotten throughout the series, Sirius, Harry’s godfather, who gives up twelve years of his life in the notorious wizarding prison, Azkaban, when former friend, Peter Pettigrew blasts away a street full of Muggles and leaves a finger behind, leaving the Wizarding World thinking he is dead, when he is living as a rat with the Weasley family. Mr and Mrs Weasley, who open their homes and their hearts to Harry from book one, when he is lost on King’s Cross, trying to get onto Platform 9 ¾. And then there are Professors McGonagall and Snape, who protect Hogwarts, and Harry, until the end, in their own ways, with McGonagall ensuring that Harry gets through his OWLs, despite the cruelty of Dolores Umbridge, and ensuring he is able to get the Battle of Hogwarts under way. And Snape, whose hatred for Harry runs deep, spends the series as a double agent, and his death to ensure Voldemort doesn’t find Harry, despite this hatred. As readers, we all remember these heroes. But there is one group of heroes we don’t hear much about, at least in the movies, but they have a much bigger role in the books. The house elves.

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We are first introduced to house elves with Dobby, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He has, unbeknownst to his masters, the Malfoys, run away from their Manor to try and prevent Harry from returning to Hogwarts for his second year. He has stopped Ron and Hermione’s letters from arriving, and has now come to cause havoc to ensure his expulsion. Yet, in a further act of deviousness, he closes the barrier at King’s Cross, and once Harry is finally at Hogwarts, tampers with a Bludger that injures Harry, and results in the bones being removed from his arm by the wildly inadequate, yet egotistical Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart. At the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, after discovering Dobby serves the Malfoy family, Harry presents the diary of Voldemort to Lucius in a sock, which he flings aside and Dobby catches it – setting him free, as the only way a house elf can be released from his or her servitude is with clothing.

Dobby makes another appearance in book four, where Harry, Ron and Hermione find him working in the Hogwarts kitchens with Winky, who, until the beginning of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, had worked for the Crouch family. Dobby comes to Harry’s aid again in the second task when he brings him Gillyweed, to help him breathe underwater to save Ron, and so it turns out, Fleur Delacour’s younger sister.

In book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dobby again helps Harry (this time without injuring him) find a secret place where Dumbledore’s Army could meet and Dobby delivers, showing him how to find The Room of Requirement, and then warns Harry that they have been discovered. During this time, Harry also employs Dobby to spy on Draco Malfoy so he can find out what he is up to, and then gives Kreacher and Dobby various tasks during this time. Dobby defends Harry against Kreacher’s screeching that Draco would make abetter master as well – proving his loyalty to Harry, and showing that house else are just as loyal and heroic. Later on, Kreacher becomes loyal to Harry following the death of Sirius, and together with Dobby, brings Mundungus Fletcher to Harry in the final book when they are searching for the Horcuxes.

Dobby, who has been the house elf who has received the most amount of page time so far, though was not as involved in the movies as he should have been, makes the ultimate sacrifice at Malfoy Manor when Harry, Ron and Hermione are captured and plot to save Luna Lovegood, Griphook and Garrick Ollivander from the Malfoys. As they Apparated out of Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix Lestrange threw a knife at Dobby, and upon their arrival at Shell Cottage, Harry discovered Dobby’s fatal injury.

Dobby, who had dedicated his last years to helping Harry, uttered his final words in Harry’s arms: Harry Potter, He was buried near Shell Cottage, under a headstone that reads:

Here lies Dobby, a free elf.

Kreacher only appears in the last few books, and at first, endears himself to nobody, lamenting the death of his mistress, Mrs Black, and lacking respect for his new master, Sirius. Influenced over the years by Dark Wizards and their thinking, the respect Kreacher is shown by Harry and Hermione is what makes him begin to help them with Dobby, and lead the House Elves of Hogwarts into the Battle of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This is missing in the movies, and the omission of the role of the house elves in the books from the movies is perhaps what makes them the unsung heroes of the series. As Kreacher only has a small part, much smaller than Dobby, but just as important – both have been mistreated, and are seen as lesser beings by many wizards. They are valued by Harry, Ron and Hermione – and therefore are loyal to them. Whilst Dobby is faithful to Harry and will defend him against anyone, Kreacher takes a bit longer to come around, and it is Harry’s kindness in allowing him to keep some Black family relics in his bed, and speaking to him as an equal that eventually brings Kreacher around, and follows his orders to go to Hogwarts. It is his loyalty that makes Kreacher lead the other house elves into the battle when Dobby is no longer there to give that help.

Dobby and Kreacher are the two most significant house elves in the series but they are all heroes in the end, giving their lives and freedom for Hogwarts, which is as much their home as it is Harry’s, and they will defend it, even if they are not ordered to. This act, and the many acts of Dobby that ensured Harry’s survival, show that somebody small can be a hero. Amongst the heroes that are remembered from the series and the Battle of Hogwarts, it is not always the house elves that are remembered. On this anniversary, 20 years of Harry Potter, the house elves shall be remembered, and it all started with an elf with eyes the size and colour of tennis balls called Dobby.