Ok, I’ll admit, I only ‘brought’ this book because it was part of a very limited buy one get one free offer in Waterstones, I had gone in to buy one book (think it was an Artemis Fowl) which happened to be part of the offer and there wasn’t much else to chose from, but I’m never going to refuse a free book, so I went home with this one because it had a pretty cover (yes I’m shallow).
Turns out I’ve actually read Eva Ibbotson before, ‘Which Witch’, which I read as a child and consequently I’m already in awe of Ibbotson’s lengthy publishing career (The Dragonfly Pool was originally published in 2008) and I would have read Which Witch in the earlyish ’80s.
It also turns out that ended up reading The Dragonfly Pool with great interest, at first because the cover blurb had billed the book as classic adventure and I was curious to try and work out what exactly made The Dragonfly Pool ‘classic’ adventure, as opposed to say, Artemis Fowl, which isn’t. I’ve always in the past, when thinking about the sort of children stories I like to write, thought of myself as writing adventures in a similar style to the old children’s stories but I’ve realised now when comparing myself between Eva Ibbotson on one side and Charlie Higson and Eoin Colfer on the other, my stories tend to fall more on the just plain adventure side, instead of the classic adventure side. But what’s the difference anyway? It’s hard to pin down, I think classic adventure books are gentler than the more modern style adventure stories which are faster paced with more jaw dropping how are they going to get out of this cliff hangers, modern adventure stories are a little more ironic, tongue in cheek as well. There is more human interest in the classic adventure stories to, at least thinking about the classic adventure stories I read as a child, which I have to admit were more on the girly side, maybe that’s the difference I’m actually seeing, The Dragonfly Pool is for girls (although I think a boy could quite enjoy it) and Young Bond and Artemis Fowl are for boys (although I’m pretty sure 10 year old me would have loved them – well considering I was reading Hercule Poirot at the time).
Anyway, as for The Dragonfly Pool itself, it’s actually really good and beautifully written, with in one section in particular, some really powerful scenes which literally sent shivers up my neck plus the best introductions to two side villains I’ve seen in a long time. It starts just prior to World War II, when Tally is sent to a progressive boarding school to escape the forthcoming war. There she makes friends and they end up going to a folk dance festival in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bergania, where they meet the troubled prince. A lovely book.
So now I’ve finished that I’m actually at a dilemma, I have nothing to read! I told Mr. Lacer and he goes “What you’ve read all those books piled up on your bedside table?”, of course not, I just don’t want to read those. Actually going back to look at the pile again, with desperate eyes because I hate not having a read on the go, I realised that a large chunk of the pile was non-fiction, novel research books on Egypt, Charles I and Venice / Italy (there you go, a potted history of all my plot ideas over the last few years). So I’ve pulled out my Egypt books to have a re-read again plus a book of short stories and I suspect I’ll be making my way to a book shop near me as soon as possible and buying a Neil Gaiman for my ‘proper read’. Since discovering Neil Gaiman, shamefully late I should add, I have deliberately avoided reading everything of his at once (which I can often do with a new favourite author), just so I can eek the pleasure out a bit more, but Anansi Boys is calling me, now that I read American Gods a few months or so ago. Plus buying a Neil Gaiman book is pretty much the only book Mr. Lacer would let me get away with as we enter the side of the month where we start looking forward to the next pay check a little too eagerly, as he really wants to read Anansi Boys to!