Allen and Unwin
The story: Peat, a nine-year-old girl, lives with her sister at the Overhang, a place four days’ walk from the nearest village. They tend cows, make cheese and wait for their aunt to bring supplies once a month. When a traveller brings sickness to the village, Peat is blamed – her looks do not fit in with the village.
She is forced to flee her home alone and ends up on the marshes with the marsh aunties. She is apprenticed to Eadie, who teaches her the art of storytelling. But when a story refuses to stay a story and becomes Peat’s new life, she must find a way to leave the story and return home, with the help of Sleek, a furry friend/enemy, Stiltboy and his great hound, Shadow.
The highlights: I loved this book and so did Miss 8. She said it was so vivid and real to her, that she could see it as a movie in her mind. For me, this book has so many fabulous elements in it – a strong character, mythical creatures, blurred lines between fantasy and reality, stories within stories, page-turning anticipation, beautiful language (especially from Stiltboy) …
I read it in three nights and couldn’t put it down. The marsh aunties reminded me a little of Mrs Who, Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Which in A wrinkle in time by Madeleine L’Engle. Healers, seamstresses, cooks, weavers, arguing over everything. They were hilarious and deeply complex at the same time.
I will definitely read this book again. This time, I read it for the sheer pleasure of finding out what happened next. Next time, I will read it to study Julie Hunt’s craft.