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‘They were mismatched, the larger lake tear-shaped and peacock green, the smaller peacock blue and oval. The water was motionless and lucid, concentric ripples of sediment stained the bottom with hummingbird hues. Lidless, lashless, pitiless.’ Young readers attracted to this style of writing are going to enjoy visiting Gullstruck Island, a terrain where natural and human world, flora and fauna, come together in a lyrical celebration of the senses and of the power of the imagination. (Watch out for the bats!) But it is also a terrain of internal tensions where, as we join the story, ‘the gentle streamlet of deceit was gushing uncontrollably into wider, wilder waters.’ The disentangling of this deceit becomes the responsibility of young sisters Arilou and Hathin; Arilou has the special distinction of being a ‘Lost’, endowed with the ability to ‘mind fly’ beyond her body. It seems at first as if Hathin is to be cast merely in the role of Arilou’s helper, but the complex process of unravelling the island’s secrets and conspiracies which the narrative sets in train is to witness numerous subtle changes in the relationship. Hardinge’s fantasy is populated with an engaging range of characters, their quickly changing fortunes played out in an equally engaging landscape which, at times, almost assumes its own living and breathing existence. Potential readers should not be deterred by the fact that the early pages are rather slow to take off, being merely devoted to exposition of the island’s history and its various social divisions.