Publisher: Eagle Books Imprint: Christmas Press
If I were to use the vernacular, I’d say it’s been a long time between drinks Victor, but it was certainly worth it. Multi-award winner, Victor Kelleher, has crafted his first middle grade novel in fifteen years with this gripping and absorbing post-apocalyptic narrative. If you think Waterworld for kids, you might get a little sense of the setting.
Orphaned Dane, spends most of his life since the devastation of his village, on his kayak. The world has shrunk to few habitable places and even those are not safe from the ravaging horde who call themselves The Clan. These self-styled warriors (more ruthless vigilantes) are determined to remove every last trace of the mythical ‘Golden Years’ a long-ago time when such things as books, knowledge and learning were held in high esteem.
Dane narrowly escapes an encounter with these dangerous killers and, guarding his sole treasure – a book given to him by his now-murdered mother – needs urgent repairs to his kayak, if he is to remain as safe as is possible. The rumour of an old man who can fix such craft leads him to Garth, and his granddaughter, Lana – a remarkable young girl with extraordinary gifts. Garth is not just a capable craftsman, he is a guardian of the old knowledge and a hoard of books. Knowing that time is limited as The Clan draw ever closer to discovering their hidden location, Garth entrusts the two young people to take the books to the last possible stronghold for such valuable treasures. But their journey is fraught with danger as The Clan pursues them for reasons that are revealed as well as their encounters with other survivors, all of them distrustful of strangers and focused on their own needs, and extremely unpredictable.
The novel explores themes of courage and tenacity, resilience and ingenuity, loyalty and friendship, survival and hope. And it is a celebration and testament to the power of story and books, and the wealth and comfort these provide to us mere mortals.
I highly recommend it for able readers from around Year 6 upwards – though be mindful that there are descriptive episodes of violence throughout.
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