Review Blog

Dec 09 2015

Tinder by Sally Gardner

cover image

Hachette, 2015. ISBN: 9781780621487
(Age: 17+) Highly recommended. This story is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale Tinderbox, published in 1835. Sally was inspired by the fairy tale and the stories of soldiers returning from current frontiers of conflict. She set this tale in the time of the Thirty Years War in Europe (1618-1648) and doesn't hold back on the graphic details of war and the associated atrocities that can occur.
18-year-old soldier, Otto Hundebiss, makes a deal with death itself and flees the battlefield. In mysterious circumstances he is nursed back to health and provided with dice that will direct him in his journey to safety. The language is evocative and the imagery is powerful - taking us back to the original feel and intention of fairy tales.
The illustrations from the book, by artist David Roberts, are dark, frightening and add menace to the tale. This book has all the fairy tale favourites: magic, a princess, werewolves, a sorceress ('The Lady of the Nail') and a host of interesting characters (Mistress Jabber, Head on a Plate).
This is a story of great love and great loss. It calls into question our capacity to be in charge of our lives and the influence of good and evil. The ending brings questions for the reader, such as 'Does great power bring us what we desire?'
Linda Guthrie

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