Katie Cotton’s novel is a wartime story with a difference. For one thing, it takes place in the years after the war, when the civilian population were hoping for better things but still scarred by the brutality of what they’d lived through, represented here by a constant fear of unexploded bombs; for another, the secret of Splint Hall is much bigger than the black-market smuggling being carried out there, it’s the dragons that live underneath. Isobel, her big sister Flora and their mother move into Splint Hall after their own home has been destroyed in a bomb blast. It’s their mum’s childhood home but following the death of her father, now owned by her sister, the girls’ aunt, and her racketeering, bullying husband, Mr Godfrey. The atmosphere in the house is dark and oppressive, and there’s a new tension too between the people of the village and Isobel’s family. As the girls explore the house and discover its secrets for themselves, they learn that the dragons protect the world above from splints, terrifying creatures, always a danger but strengthened by warfare, as though fed by the evil and destruction unleashed. The girls team up with a couple of the local boys, whose family are dragon keepers, to defeat the creatures. Superb adventure scenes follow in deep, dark tunnels under the house, where all sorts of dangers have to be faced. The dragons too when we meet them are awe-inspiring and properly magical. Though the story makes clear that any victory over the splints is temporary, there’s huge satisfaction to be had in Aunt Bea’s total victory over the awful Mr Godfrey, as she throws him out of her house. Adventure, new friendships, magic, there is much for readers to enjoy, and for all the fantasy elements Cotton creates a vivid sense of post-war life.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Andrea Reece http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Andrea Reece2022-03-10 22:41:332022-03-22 10:42:11The Secret of Splint Hall