BOOK REVIEW: Tinder by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
A young soldier, a captive princess, witches, wolves and Death walk hand in hand in Costa Award winner Sally Gardner’s exquisitely written new novel inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Tinderbox, illustrated by David Roberts.
I’d been in battle since dawn. Like my comrades, I’d fought for all I was worth, though I knew ours was a hopeless cause. About me lay the dead and the dying, their blood – our blood – made the carpet of leaves more crimson than autumn had intended.
Otto Hundebiss is tired of war, but when he defies Death he walks a dangerous path. A half beast half man gives him shoes and dice which will lead him deep into a web of dark magic and mystery. He meets the beautiful Safire – pure of heart and spirit, the scheming Mistress Jabber, and the terrifying Lady of the Nail. He learns the powers of the tinderbox and the wolves whose master he becomes. But will all the riches in the world bring him the thing he most desires?
Tinder is one of those slightly eerie, engrossing tales. You know right from the start that no matter how much things are looking up for a protagonist throughout the story, something is coming that will flip it all upside-down, because these stories hold darkness.
This is an atmospherically illustrated fairy tale along the lines of works by Emily Carroll, and inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story… from the days when fairy tales were more likely to inspire nightmares than to chase them away.
David Roberts has managed to bring those feelings through in his illustrations, at times filling the reader with dread with his images alone, and at others complimenting the story and amplifying it perfectly.
There is never much development of characters in stories like this, and this one holds true to the rule, but the gorgeous imagery and the sense of impending, delicious doom make up for that.
The eeriness in this story could have been a little stronger, the tale more scary, but this is a fun read and a beautiful book to add to your collection.
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