Michelle Paver chooses The Giant Under the Snow by John Gordon, a book that thrills her as much today as it did her nine-year-old self.
I borrowed this book from the library when I was nine, and loved it so much that I saved up my pocket money and bought my own copy. I was swept away by its uniquely exciting, frightening adventure that felt as if it could really, really happen. Three teenagers are locked in a desperate battle with an ancient warlord and his terrifying, undead “leather men” – while the everyday world carries on around them unawares. The fact that it’s Christmas only heightens the protagonists’ sense of isolation.
The writing is as vivid as a lightning flash, and so compelling that you just can’t stop turning the pages. The characters are deftly and economically drawn, there’s a marvellous sense of menace (and a truly frightening dog), as well as quite the best description of being able to fly that I’ve ever read.
I can’t honestly say that I wish I’d written it myself, because nobody else but John Gordon could possibly have done that. But whenever I re-read it (and that’s always around Christmas), it inspires me in my own writing. It’s eerie, gripping and impossible to put down. I’ve read it so often that my elderly copy is falling apart. The thrill never palls.
The Giant Under the Snow (978-1842555453) by John Gordon is published by Orion Children’s Books at £6.99 pbk.
Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver was first published in 2004 and became an international bestseller. To mark its tenth anniversary, a special edition is published by Orion at £7.99 pbk.