Review Blog

Apr 15 2008

Allira's gift by Paul Collins and Danny Willis

cover image

Five Mile Press, 2007
(Ages 11+) Richly illustrated by Danny Willis, this fantasy hardback novel, sweeps the reader along in a whirl of adventure and danger. Gerald Hart takes his two children, Allira and Stephen, to the castle home of his father, Fergus, who has disappeared. Allira often sees strange things that no one else notices and she keeps the dragon she glimpses near the castle a secret. More surprises are in store for her as she discovers the alternative world of Grymm, where a fierce battle against evil is being waged and she finds hidden depths of strength and courage

The novel has immediate appeal to an Australian audience because of its setting in Victoria's bush, with possums, gum trees, a bunyip and the Calder Highway, blending with the more traditional fantasy elements of a castle, goblins, dragons and trolls.

The strong female main character will appeal to young girls, and there is plenty of action, fights, hideous characters and bloodshed to engage boys. The illustrations stretched my imagination. I especially enjoyed the pictures of Allira and Stephen, and felt that they were people I knew well. They contrasted well with the quirky drawings of the unsung heroes in the Hall of Fame.

The story ends on a frightening cliffhanger which didn't worry me as an adult as I assumed that all would be resolved in the next book in the series. However this may worry younger readers. Fans of this book could move onto Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci series and The Foundling by D.M. Cornish.
Pat Pledger

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