Review Blog

Jan 19 2016

Fetcher's song by Lian Tanner

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The Hidden series. Allen & Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781743319420
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Dystopian world, Totalitarian state, Survival. In this the the third in The Hidden series beginning with Ice breaker and Sunker's deep, two stories intersect. Petrel and her cohorts have left the Ice Breaker and set foot on land to find Fin's Mam, a dangerous undertaking. The Devouts are searching for them, and so they traverse the Northern Lands watching the Devouts scour the villages, taking the children. They see the children roped together until someone comes forward with information.
At the same time, the Fetchers, a family of wandering players have just escaped from one village, with the Devouts hard on their heels. Gwin, her twin blind brother, Nat and their father bring some happiness into the lives of the villagers but the Devouts see them as a threat to their power. The woman who warned them goes with them, knowing she would be killed by the Devouts for her behavior, but she poses a risk for the Fetchers.
The dystopian world where machines are smashed and destroyed and all science rejected has seen a return to barbarity as a small band rules with an iron fist. Readers will not help but notice similarities between this society and that of Nazi Germany or Pol Pot or the regime in North Korea or ISIS. Persecution, intimidation, executions are the order of the day and people live in poverty and terror, trying vainly to scrape together an existence while their children may be taken at any time.
As Petrel and her group attack the citadel, the Fetchers find a way into the mountains, where the wild people are to be avoided. But they are thrilled to have a Fetcher family in their midst, and as Da is a Fetch he is impelled to retrieve an old document before the Devouts can destroy it. Once he has set off, word comes that it is a trap, and he is captured. Forced to bring them to the mountains, the families take flight but Nat and Gwin and Hilde stay to confront the invaders.
This exciting trilogy will keep readers hooked right to the end. With stunning characters, an engrossing landscape, this steam punk story with overtones of a nasty dystopian future where science is banned, parallels some of the backward looking beliefs taking hold around the world today.
The mercilessness of the Devouts is ever present as readers see religion twisted to become a way to control and debase. But finding the captain, allied with the two groups of fighters, brings hope again to a subservient people and as with most dystopian stories, evil is defeated.
Fran Knight

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