Apr 1, 2010

13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

Tanya has seen the fairies her whole life and they've never been very kind to her. They have teased her and tormented her because she is the only person, that she knows of, who can see them and they don't take kindly to being exposed. After months of questionable incidents that have caused injuries to Tanya, and that she has had to explain away, her mother has had enough. Tanya is sent to her grandmother's estate to work out her "issues" while her mother takes a break in their home in London.

Not in the least thrilled about being banished to the boring countryside with her stand-offish grandmother, Tanya is determined to make the best of her situation for as long as she can. The estate has fallen into disrepair as time has gone on. Very little of the house is used anymore as there are only four human inhabitants that live there. Florence (Tanya's grandmother), Warwick (the current groundskeeper), Warwick's father Amos (the now insane, former groundskeeper) and Warwick's son Fabian all share the space, unknowingly with several fairie creatures who love to cause mischief. As Tanya is the only one who can see these creatures, she does her best not to anger them and stay out of their way. Unfortunately it's not enough.

As Fabian and Tanya begin to explore the more closed off portions of the estate, they make some interesting finds: secret passageways (and not just the servant kind), blocked off rooms, and forgotten promises. The house isn't the only thing hiding secrets though. When the two become lost in the woods while chasing Tanya's dog Oberon, they stumble upon a young girl with her own secrets. And her secrets are the dangerous sort that people never recover from.

This was a classical fairy tale, complete with English backdrop, in which a girl can see fairies, but other cannot and she must work within her bounds to make it through whatever crisis crops up. The descriptions of the creatures were so detailed, without being boring, that I could actually imagine them climbing off the page! Most of the characters were well-defined as well. The reader catches glimpses of each character throughout the story that start to put them in context and round them out, again without being over-detailed and dragging on.

The plot was intriguing enough to move the story along, but not so in-depth and convoluted that it was hard to follow. I'll admit that many "mysteries" were quite obvious to the reader and I really had to suspend my belief that anyone could be that dim-witted, but for the most part it was fascinating to watch the kids put the pieces together. There was only one character who made sense in the end, but when she's first introduced seems very mismatched with the surroundings. I let the explanation for her existence go and just enjoyed the story.

This was a fun, fast read with just enough mystery and intrigue to keep the reader engaged throughout the whole story. If you prefer more traditional fairies to the urban fey of current popularity, then this book is just right for you. I think everyone should at least give it a shot!


Andrea said...

It has a little bit of a "Spiderwick"/"Coraline" vibe to it. But it sounds very cute.

loreleimarsh said...

It does. Thanks for the references! I tend to get stuck on those sometimes. :D

swiggett said...

Sounds like a fun read!

Dannie said...

sounds kind of like those whimsical reads we'd read when we were younger...I'll definetly be picking it up.