Walker Books

This month’s survey features three bewitching novels from authors intent on transporting younger readers to other worlds. In Alison Croggon’s latest fantasy novel, The Threads of Magic (Walker Books, $19.95 pb, 380 pp), Pip and his sister El are living in a poor but snug apartment in the city of Clarel, bequeathed to them by Missus Pledge. Pip, always on the lookout for opportunities, scoops up a silver box from the sidelines during a street brawl. The opening of this box burdens Pip with an ancient and grisly relic: the shrivelled black heart of a child.

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Lina is part witch, part royalty. Her existence is scorned by both the king and the powerful wizards that all but rule the bitter lands of the North. The story of her heady romance and tragic fate is the centrepiece for Alison Croggon’s latest fiction, a Gothic fantasy inspired by Wuthering Heights.

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Dystopian fiction has surged in popularity in recent years, with books like The Hunger Games (2008) among the many Young Adult titles being devoured by younger and adult readers alike. There is a danger that the sudden influx of a genre in the marketplace, and the eagerness of authors to get their books into the hands of keen readers, will lead to a drop in the quality of writing, or to more predictable plot lines. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf sets itself apart. It is a bitingly clever dystopia, highly imaginative. Where other books fall flat, this one stands out as a startling contemporary example of the dystopian genre.

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