One of the nice things about reviewing books is that I’m confident of one thing: The people who read book reviews are also avid readers. Readers in general are also quite likely to have found their love of books in childhood, and were encouraged to read by the adults in their lives. I’m all for encouraging children to read, especially if it’s a book that gives them a leg up into both genre and literary works of fiction. If you have a young reader in your life, check out this book.
The Greying is a fantasy tale rooted in folklore. There’s adventure, mystery, and a struggle to find a stolen object that may hold the key to pushing back “the greying” that creeps through the world and steals away all color. It’s a classic hero’s journey, not unlike most other fantasy stories, until it takes a metafictional twist: When Meah recovers her memory and her real name, she discovers that the world of Landland is a story written by her father — and being re-written by her aunt. Fantasy and reality are overlapping, and Meah may be the key to setting the fantasy world to rights.
As I read The Greying, I wished I had a niece or nephew at the proper age to appreciate this book. Alas, mine are all well into YA and adult novel territory. It’s appropriate for middle-grade and “tween-aged” readers, and I would also recommend this as a parent-read book for younger children. American readers will notice right away that this is written in British English, with a few spelling and grammatical differences that aren’t difficult to navigate. (The author is Australian.)
At first, I was a bit put off by the half-assed placenames. The introductory map showed me places called, Landland, Bigriverland, Dead Forest, Big Lake and Big City. Really? C’mon. But when we finally meet the mysterious Biggo, the naming convention makes much more sense and the reveal made me chuckle. The writing can be simplistic, more “tell” than “show” and is often expository. The style is similar to the storytelling of early fairy tales, and I believe it’s intentional.
The Greying suffers from a lack of illustrations. There are many fanciful creatures, scary things, and magical places described within the book. It’s my opinion that chapter illustrations would help bring more life to the story and add another layer of richness overall. Another problem that jarred me was the sudden appearance of named characters without introduction or explanation. Young readers are smarter than we give them credit for, and they may wonder, as I did, “Where did these people come from?”
Overall, it’s a good book for young readers. Yes, people die in the story and the heroine deals with the grief of losing her mother, but these are issues that children face in real life and they are handled with compassion.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This review originally appeared at The Bookie Monster