Review Blog

Dec 07 2011

The Windvale Sprites by Mackenzie Crook

cover image

Faber and Faber, 2011. ISBN 9780571240715.
(Ages: 7-10) While exploring the damage inflicted by a 'not technically a hurricane' storm on his small town young Asa Brown makes an extraordinary discovery. Blown into his back garden from the nearby Windvale Moor and floating in his fishpond is a six inch long creature with a strong resemblance to what could only be described as a fairy. Not a 'wand waving Tinkerbell' as the author points out but a 'wild creature' with antennae, pointed ears and sharp thorns on the outside of each limb. Mackenzie Crook is an unlikely author of this magical and heartening tale. He is also responsible for the unique illustrations scattered throughout the book. As an actor best known for his work as Gareth in the British comedy The Office I was expecting this to be full of dry humour and as a debut novel I was not highly expectant. However, while this is not a literary masterpiece I really enjoyed the characters, the plot and the style of this story. Asa's mission begins with his quest to make sure that fairies are not commonplace and leads him to discover the hidden and long forgotten secrets of eccentric 19th century scientist Benjamin Tooth. In an overt subtext his motivation changes throughout the book as he first dreams of being the famed 'discoverer' of these creatures to declaring himself a conservationist as he discovers the horrific treatment they have been exposed to in the past. In the end Asa discovers more than he bargains for and his promise to protect these creatures culminates in a bizarre but charming conclusion. The dialogue and character development within this story is superb, witty and convincing. The sarcastic librarian Mr Trap is a particular joy! I can quite honestly say I enjoyed every page.
Nicole Smith-Forrest

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