"An exquisitely illustrated, dark and delicious Gothic tale from an outstanding partnership"
Pairing for the first time the mesmeric, imaginative storytelling of Costa Award-winning author Frances Hardinge, with illustrations by Emily Gravett, two-time winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and here obviously relishing illustrating a book for much older readers, has produced a book to treasure.
Much shorter than a normal Hardinge novel, there is not a wasted word, and an utterly compelling coming of age story with themes of death and grieving, is told in its 121 pages. Set on the strange small island of Merlank, where, for generations, a single family has produced a Ferryman. Their vital task is to carry the ghosts of the dead, when the mere sight of them can kill you, to another island and the ruined tower, which is the gateway for the dead to move on. Milo, our hero and the youngest son, is too imaginative and empathetic to be considered for the role, but the sudden death of his father forces the job upon him, and now he must escort his own father safely onwards. Untrained and pursued by the lord of the isle, who wants to bring his daughter back from the dead with the help of two evil magicians, his journey into perilous and uncharted seas threatens to overwhelm him. But perhaps his empathy will be an asset and he can find a new way to fulfil the age-old obligation?
This is a marvellous story of true resilience and courage and, above all, kindness. “To be kind in this unkind world is walking through a battlefield without armour or sword. It takes courage and strength to be kind.” The sophisticated black, white and blue tinged illustrations throughout, repay careful study, adding another level of depth to the extraordinarily atmospheric writing. The production values, with a beautiful, foiled cover adorned with shining silver moths, do justice to the delights within. A book to treasure and one to read aloud with relish