Hello my friends.
I'm really keen on pushing as many good books into the limelight as possible, and I especially want to bring attention to those hidden masterpieces and forgotten gems that hold special places in our hearts, but aren't being promoted by their publishers and authors as successfully as they could be. If you have a favourite book or two that fits that category, and I don't mind if it's indie or trad published so long as it's really GOOD, then please send an email my way via the contact page or mention it on twitter to @mikeycampling with the hashtag #gudbux. If it's a really great book, I'll even talk about it in a newsletter to my wonderful subscribers. Thank you.
Anyway, on with the show.
Today's gudbux nomination is a truly captivating book that will enthrall you with its effortless prose, whether you're 11 or 93.7 or any point between the two – and that in itself is a rare achievement.
The Snowspider Trilogy by Jenny Nimmo.
The Snowspider books have been out for quite a while, and although they were awarded the Smarties Prize – a children's book prize – in the UK, the books don't seem to be remembered. Nimmo sets the story in Wales, and perhaps that could alienate some overseas readers, but there's no reason for that to happen. There's nothing that would stand in the way of your understanding of the richly drawn characters or the tightly woven plot.
I would hate to give away any of the plot, so no spoilers here. But I do have to mention that the main character brushes up against the world of magic. But this is no Harry Potter tale.
Now, some of you are going to be cross with me, because I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan. Yes, the first few books make for good entertainment, but they are fairly tame. I mean, Harry was never going to do anything except get into scrapes and be back in the dorm for crumpets under the covers. Whereas Nimmo explores the idea that magic would be absolutely bloody terrifying for a child. It would turn their world upside down and rip their identity apart during their formative years. Magic doesn't make sense – it's alien, abhorrent, anxiety-inducing.
So yes, in among the elements of wonder and mystery, Nimmo adds a few dark threads into the fabric of the tale. The result is a much edgier and more gripping tale that will have you perched on the edge of your seat. It isn't gory or overwrought so don't worry, it won't give your kids nightmares. But Nimmo doesn't shy away from the twists and turns that the story needs to take. And cleverly, there are dark hints that will resonate more strongly with adults than with children. This is a similar effect to Roald Dahl's wonderful trick of presenting dark characters in an acceptable way.
The story is thrilling while remaining understated, and it isn't all dark. There are genuinely uplifting moments too. There's a theme of relationships – the difficulty in getting them right and the problems when they go wrong – whether that's within families, in the close-knit community, or friendships.
The Snowspider is a life-enhancing book and I urge you to grab a copy. I know I've read my battered paperback several times – once or twice by accident (I just picked it up and couldn't stop myself getting involved). The cover image below has links that will lead to your local Amazon store and they are affiliate links so they won't cost you anything more, but Amazon will give me a few pennies – to put towards a less battered copy of this book perhaps.
I hope you enjoy it – please let me know by leaving a comment and I'll respond as soon as I'm able.