Review Blog

Aug 15 2011

The Paradise trap by Catherine Jinks

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781742375
(Age: 10-14) Recommended. Fantasy. When his Mum decides to go back to Diamond Beach for a holiday, Marcus is not so sure. He is quite happy playing his computer games and doesn't trust the happy memories that his mother has about the seaside town. When he discovers a hidden cellar under the old smelly caravan that his mother has bought, he is dragged into a series of fantasy holidays with his new friends the Huckstepps. But how do you get back home if your fantasy won't let you go?
Catherine Jinks, a favourite author of mine, is a masterly writer who can be relied on to come up with the unexpected. Who would expect to find an entrance into a fantasy world under an old caravan? The intertwining of Greek mythology with the adventures that the two families have is ingenious and is sure to get kids looking up stories about sirens and Odyssey. There is plenty of action and suspense and everyone has to use their ingenuity and work together as a team to find a way out of the labyrinth of the fantasy holidays.
Marcus is a most appealing hero, and is supported by the in-depth characterisation of everyone around him. It is unusual to find whole families involved in the fantasy world but Jinks takes along Marcus and his Mum, and all the Huckstepp family on a wild ride to get out of their dream holidays and home to safety. By the end of the story I felt as if I knew each member really well, with all their strengths and foibles.
How many of us have had a holiday that doesn't live up to expectations or the ideal destination is smaller and meaner than our childhood memories? Jinks explores the meaning of expectation, feelings of being let down and disappointment in the context of thrills and spills in a fantasy world.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable story that I read in one sitting. It is one that everyone could consume for the action while more thoughtful readers could explore the complex imagery and ideas that Jinks provides in this exciting and unique story.
Pat Pledger

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