Sunday, June 4, 2017

The beast of Hushing wood by Gabrielle Wang

Life in the village Dell Hollow, which sits beside Hushing Wood, is an unhappy one.  Outsiders are shunned and everyone is deeply afraid of the woods which wrap around this isolated community. Prosperity and joy seem to be things of the past.

Ziggy Truegood lives in this town. She is different.  Her father was an outsider.  He has now left taking her two older brothers with him. Her momma has withdrawn into her house.  Ziggy is treated as an outsider by the people of the village but she is not fearful of the woods.  She often goes there alone and loves to spend time in her special place inside a huge Hollow Tree.

Ziggy has some true friends.  Pearl, Big Bobby Little and her faithful dog Mystic. Her precious grandfather has been moved in to a care home. His memory seems to be failing but Ziggy is sure he has important things to tell her.

A new boy called Raffi arrives at school. He seems to be watching Ziggy and she is immediately afraid of him.  The mystery deepens when Ziggy sees him with a leopard. Her friend Pearl cannot see this huge and beautiful wild creature but Ziggy is convinced the creature is real as is the animal with white fur she glimpses in the woods.  Then at school Ziggi is attacked by a golden eagle.

"Raffi is standing at the edge of the woods. He looks at me, then turns, shielding his eyes from the sun. At that moment, as it he's summoned it, a huge shadow swoops out of the trees and flies straight for us. ... I feel a wing brushing my hair and then a sudden sharp pain on my cheek."

Ziggy has been having dreams for weeks.  They seem to be predicting a series of terrifying events culminating in her own death on her birthday.

All the pieces of this complex puzzle begin to come together when Ziggy and the silent boy, Big Bobby uncover old books hidden behind the walls in the town library.  Ziggy reads about a trickster dragonfly who is really a jinn.  The jinn has taken a young girl and now her brother (Raffi) and his grandfather must find Kalila before it is too late.

This is a book filled with tension and a well crafted story that will keep your interest right to the end. I love the idea that your imagination can take you to other realms.

"When it becomes strong, your imagination can take you to incredible places. These are real places, although you cannot touch them with your hands ... But you can touch them with your heart."

We have fourteen books by the Australian author Gabrielle Wang in our school library. I was interested to read that she spent time in America to get the right feel for her small community in The beast of Hushing Wood. Here is a review of The beast of Hushing Wood.  I recommend you also read The Garden of the Empress of Cassia.  You might also enjoy The Stonekeeper's daughter by Linda McNabb.

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