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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Book review: Tinder

Author: Sally Gardner

Illustrator: David Roberts
Release date: November 2013
Genre: Fairy tale retelling/ Gothic
Target audience: YA (sexual references and violence)
Publisher: Indigo (Orion)

Tinder is a fairy tale retelling of Hans Christen Andersen’s The Tinder Box.

Otto Hundebiss is on the battlefields among the many bodies of the dead. He cheats death and is given a set of dice to guide him on his way. It’s not a comforting read...

I’ve wanted to read this for ages but the shortlisting for the Kate Greenaway Medal has propelled it to the top of my reading pile.

I still haven’t quite decided what to make of it. I suppose it is the nature of the fairy tale before Disney gets their hands on it. Fairy tales are dark, full of deception and have a structure that’s so familiar. There were some very detailed descriptions of gore and blood and dark deeds. It’s definitely written with a young adult rather than middle grade audience in mind.

What I did like was the descriptions of the setting and some of the character references - like the lawyer being referred to as a quill. It stood out to me as clever. But sadly, I never really connected what Otto. I never lived his passion or felt his fear. Personally, I think the illustrations were distracting. My mind couldn’t conjure the darkness for itself and that worked against making the story come to life.

The illustrations that I did think were good were of the scenes where Otto goes to retrieve the box and the wolves become men. I thought the brothers were almost godly in stature and that was really evocative of the fairy tale tradition (for me anyway).

Overall, this is certainly different. I’m looking forward to reading what other people thought about Tinder.

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