Saturday, 25 September 2010
Firebrand by Gillian Philip
I was at the Glasgow launch of Firebrand by Gillian Philip last night. Gillian is a writer of young adult books who is going places. Her publisher received an advanced notice of a review that The Times are planning to run in October. A quick quote from their reviewer contained the words “the best fantasy book of the year”.
Praise doesn’t come much higher than that.
So what’s it all about? The blurb runs like this...
“It is the last decade of the sixteenth century: a time of religious wars in the full-mortal world. But the Sithe (pronounced She) are at peace, hidden behind the Veil that protects their world until their queen, Kate NicNiven, determines to destroy it. Seth MacGregor is the half-feral son of a Sithe nobleman. When his father is assassinated, and Seth is exiled with his brother Conal to the full-mortal world, they vow not only to survive, but to return to reclaim their fortress and save the Veil. But even the Veil’s power cannot protect the brothers when the brutal Scottish witch-hunts begin... Brimming with intrigue and rebellion, Firebrand is the first book in the Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip, the Carnegie Medal-nominated author of Crossing the Line and multi-award nominated Bad Faith.”
Although Gillian is a YA writer this is a book with universal appeal. The themes, the characters, the writing, the action – boy, the action are all elements that will be enjoyed by everyone.
Gillian is one of those writers who writes books that make you forget you are actually reading. So effortlessly convincing is her prose that you experience the book in the screen of your mind rather than on the page. Seriously.
She writes about characters you pin your heart on – I heard a grown woman last night talking about Seth McGregor in terms you only normally hear when the ladies (and quite possibly a few boys) are talking about the likes of Pitt and Clooney.
Her sense of place and time in Firebrand is so strong you’ll think you’ve actually visited 16th century Scotland through some form of time continuum thingummijig. The Tardis in book form if you like.
But all of this will only take you so far without a story and that’s where Gillian excels. Her storytelling ability is wonderful. The cliché “edge of my seat” never was more apt. This is a lost weekend kinda book, so stock up on coffee and cookies, pick it up, dive in and tell your nearest and dearest you are “out” for the duration.