13 Treasures illuminates the dark side of fairies

13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison, inside illustrations by Kelly Louise Judd; published by Little, Brown & Company, New York, 2010; 353 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  The book was released in April 2010.

Tormenting Tanya seems to bring sadistic glee to a few fairies.  Unfortunately, when Tanya fights back, her mother only sees the 13 year old lashing out, destroying furniture and anything else around her.  Only Tanya can see the fairies.  In an effort to change the young lady’s attitude, her mother sends her to spend the summer at Grandmother Florence’s country home, Elvesden Manor.  The Essex estate abuts Hangman’s Woods, home to myth and legend and well-kept secrets.  With the help of the groundskeeper’s son, Fabian, the two unlock the secrets that have bound their families together for more than fifty years.  They’ll also uncover the war within the fairy realm that has waged for centuries.  If you think fairies look like Tinkerbell and visit little moss covered fairy houses in backyards, you’ve got another think coming!  Prepare to be educated in the ways of the fairies, which often spills silently into our own world!

I discovered this book under my daughter’s bed, just like Prince of Mist.  I’ve had the ARC to review for a year but it was secreted away for late night consumption.  I can thoroughly understand why.  This book was a treat to read, introducing a sometimes scary world of unseen forces.  Harrison’s storytelling is wonderful as she weaves myth and folklore into everyday life.  Although the publisher has indicated this book is recommended for readers aged 9-12, I would argue that older readers will enjoy the fairy story, especially readers like my daughter who prefers scary stories and fairy stories without graphic gore and other more mature content.  YALSA once created a list of “Books That Won’t Make You Blush” and this one belongs on a similar list.  So yes, this book will engross an upper elementary reader as well as high school students with an interest in the subject matter.

On another note, I appreciated the illustrations.  Judd’s pen-and-ink inspired imagery incorporates themes from the story in exquisite detail.  My ARC included what appear to be bookplate images at the beginning and end of the book; opening with a few innocuous fairies peering out from behind trees and ending with benign and frightening faces populating the landscape.  Throughout the book, each chapter is illuminated with an arch over the chapter number evoking the imagery from ancient texts and foreshadowing a piece of the story.  Along with the story, the illustrations hearken back to stories of an age gone by.

For more information about the book or author, and a game, visit the website: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/13treasures/index.html.

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 5-9

Cover Art: Tanya is running through the gates into Hangman’s Woods as magic sparkles around her.  The image will appeal to readers interested in the genre.

From Reading List: On the Edge of Your Seat (Mystery, Suspense, Thriller), The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)



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