Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell

Lin Rosenquist reminds me of Dorothy who gets transported to Oz, except Lin ends in the enchanted city of Sylveros, home to Petlings, animals who were once the favorite pet of a child. Dorothy's pet was the dog, Toto, whereas Lin's pet is a vole, Rufus, who is now the size of a human and can talk like one. The magic of Sylveros is fed by the wild joy that children feel when the first snowfall happens. Now imagine a Norwegian Dorothy. She's in a blue and white wool sweater with mittens, hat and metal hooks for buttons. That's Lin. At least after she gets out of her pajamas. There's nothing like being transported to another country in your pajamas only to get hypothermia from a wild sleigh ride down a mountain. Uff-dah.

Every now and then, a Twistrose, or child from the real world, is magicked to Sylveros to protect the inhabitants from destruction. Lin has been summoned and must aid the two Winterfyrsts who create snow. If they don't make snow the children's wild joy of the first snowfall won't happen and Sylveros will die out. One of the Winterfyrsts is missing and the other has gone to try and get his ice mask. The ice mask allows him to live with humans. The villain is trying to stop them from bringing on winter so he can take over Sylveros.

This story had too many waffles stuffed into the plot. I got confused as to who was doing what and why. The world building was creative and rich in details, but I did get befuddled by all the made-up words that sounded too much alike such as wandergates, scargates, silver fang, Frostfang, thorndrips, and brain tappers, to name a few. It was fun at first but then I started forgetting what each meant. The prophecy confused me too. Actually, I am not really a fan of prophecies. They have become a cliche in fantasy stories for me.

Lin is grieving the loss of her pet and moving from the country to the city away from her best friend. In Sylveros, Lin grows up and must decide whether or not she will say goodbye to Rufus at the end. This is the overarching theme for Lin but once in a while gets lost as the plot progresses. In addition, Lin's pretend games that she made up with her best friend come to life in Syveros. When she ends up being hunted by trolls it is her troll-hunting game come to life. The imaginative world of childhood play becomes real and forces Lin to look at reality or grow up as her character develops throughout the story.

The secondary characters didn't come to life for me and I wanted more character traits. Rufus is a faithful friend to Lin but never rises above that role in a memorable way. Nor does he change significantly. I suppose he gains confidence in himself and his abilities. It seemed that the theme of loss could have been explored more in his relationship with Lin. It is some, but the two jump to acceptance a bit too quickly for me. Isvan and the mother are not described enough for them to come alive. The cathedral of glass was detailed and I could envision that but the mother wasn't really described when Lin finds her. I did think the pacing was a bit slow at the start but a strong ending made me forget it for the most part.

I so enjoyed all the references to Norwegian folklore and culture. The secret codes and playfulness between Rufus and Lin will appeal to young readers. The light codes that Lin used with her friend and later by the sled in Sylveros reminded me of the secret codes me and my best friend would make up. We had whistling codes and light codes. Lin also makes mistakes that are very believable and that make her authentic as a character. There's no yellow brick road in this tale but their are plenty of icy paths. Enjoy a sleigh ride through these pages.

3 Smileys

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