The House on Falling Star Hill
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The publisher's blurb enthuses 'Nobody writes like this any more' and I might agree. On first reading this story of a boy Tim who travels to an enchanted world, I was reminded of the fantasies of the 1940s and 1950s, before Pearce, Garner and Le Guin took us to 'inner space'. Terms like 'nostalgic' and 'traditional' sprang to mind, recalling Meriol Trevor and Elizabeth Goudge; yet there is a contemporary feel about the characters and their quest as well, and a very unpleasant villain with a nasty way of punishing suspected opponents. Tim and his dog arrive in a west-country village to stay with Tim's grandparents. Soon Tim discovers that nobody grows flowers in their gardens, because they are always stolen at night. Tim keeps watch and discovers the thieves are little men. In the company of a mysterious man known as Hunter, and a human-sized girl from the other world, Tim journeys to Tallis to have many adventures in the course of overthrowing a usurping Duke, and proves himself resourceful in ideas and successful in action. The author has a lavish repertoire of characters, cultures and landscapes, recalling Baum in unexpectedness, and has also taken much thought over working out how far the world may use magic, how far technology. His explanation is that an inventor from our world travelled to Tallis and found his inventions working better there, than on Earth. (I could accept pure magic better than the sudden introduction of gaslight on page 301 without further explanation of its manufacture.) Some of those who enjoy Rowling's straightforward approach to magic in this world should also enjoy this other-worldly adventure.