Accidentally crossing “The Divide”, Felix finds himself in a world where humans and science are myth, and mythical creatures and magic are real. Befriended by Bretony, he finds himself helping her and her siblings put an end to the schemes of the Japegrin Snakeweed and his vicious killer Sinistroms. On the way, they are helped by Brittlehorns (unicorns), Brazzles (gryphons), a flame-bird (phoenix) and a Shreddermouth (crocodile), among others, and hindered by Worrits (dogs) and the evil Sinistroms.
Although the principal characters are thirteen, the book mostly operates at an easy-to-grasp literary level which should not tax younger readers. While a certain amount of the thought processes portrayed require a certain maturity to understand completely, it is easy to boo and hiss the baddies and cheer on the goodies most of the time. While the premise – an alternative world where humans are mythical – is hardly original, the author adds a certain freshness to the idea. For one thing, while the society there is based on magic rather than on science, it has structures which clearly mimic our own (conference centres, greedy pharmaceutical companies, etc.). Also, not all the mythical creatures have parallels in our world. The Sinistroms are described as devil hyenas and the Lickits are elvish cookery experts. My favourites, though – and these are quite frightening – are the Worrits. These look like rather comical dogs and their weapon is, in fact, to make you laugh so much that you die!
While most of the book is easy-going children’s stuff, the Sinistroms are really quite nasty. One of them tortures a Ragamuckie to reveal information and then leaves her to die. Another leaves poisoned oatcakes for two unicorns who then die from eating them. When possible, they make sadistic comments and exist to injure and kill. All through the book, Felix is searching for a cure for his heart condition for he knows that he has only a short time to live. Little by little, Bretony comes to appreciate what this means to Felix.
Tim Golden is a computer programmer in London. He also is the editor of the Good-to-Read website.