Review Blog

Jan 16 2019

The assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

cover image

Candlewick Press, 2018. ISBN 9780763698225.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Power, Politics, War, Propaganda. What a treat to read a unique tale told by two outstanding people, National Book award winner M.T.Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin. The historian elf Brangwain Spurge is catapulted into the goblin territory on a quest to give their lord a gift, while at the same time secretly spying on the kingdom. His host, the archivist goblin Werfel is chosen to look after Brangwain. While both should have a lot in common, they have no understanding of each other's culture and soon they are thrown into chaos that could cause a war between the goblin and elf kingdom.
Yelchin's witty illustrations bring to life the elf Brangwain. The reader is introduced to him at the very beginning of the book, as he is thrown into the goblin kingdom. He is shown as a fearful but determined character, believing that he is on a peace mission. Then a letter from Lord Ysoret Clivers, of The Order of the Clean Hand, brings the reader a different interpretation of Brangwain and his mission. Meanwhile when he arrives in the goblin kingdom, the narrative of the goblin Werfel also shows a different view to the illustrations and the reader is tossed back and forward between a hilarious and critical social commentary and fabulous drawings that highlight what is going on and how easily the truth can be distorted.
Younger readers will be drawn to the wonderful illustrations and follow the story eagerly to see what will happen to the pair as they gradually become friends, realising that they are being manipulated by more powerful beings and blunder through danger and adventure. Older readers will be drawn to the satire and thought provoking ideas about history, politics, power and the nature of war. A discussion guide is available and will help highlight major ideas in the book, while the humour and unreliable narration will leave a lasting memory for anyone who picks up this handsome hardcover book.
Pat Pledger

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