By Anthony Holcroft,
illustrated by Lyn Kriegler
Puffin Books: North Shore NZ, 2009
ISBN 9780143304739 (ebook); 9780143304739 (paperback)
This is a fine collection of some of Anthony Holcroft's best previously published stories for older children, carefully selected by the author himself. There are tales of magic and the supernatural, including mystical cabbage trees able to move from place to place, a malevolent shape-shifter, and restless spirits trapped in the world of the living.
The Ghost Tree
The Scorpions of Rün
The Greenstone Pendant
The Boy at the Door
The Stone Boat
It’s funny the peculiar things that can happen to you, sometimes. I mean, weird things. Bizarre. Like what happened that time I bought the cottage, over at the bay. I knew as soon as I saw the place that I was on to something good. There was the view, for a start: the beach just down the road, and the steep bit of bush at the back, and the house, all neat and tidy and shining, as if something had just licked it all over. You’d have been hard put to find a speck of dust anywhere.
“The eight stories in this collection apply the traditional fairytale form to a startling variety of times and locales. From the chatty opening of The Ghost Tree, where the New Zealand vernacular gives way to the supernatural so smoothly the reader is drawn in, unquestioning, to The Scorpions of Rün, a morality tale set firmly in a fairytale foreign land, these engaging stories are both fresh and somehow familiar. With the restless spirits in The Ghost Tree and The Greenstone Pendant, and the incorporeal companions of Young Hob and The Stone Boat, Holcroft has stirred the world up with a sprinkling of magic and mystery ... His characters tread the uncomfortable boundaries between reality and faerie, safety and danger, self-control and temptation, allowing the reader to dip their toes on the other side — if only for a while.”
“Holcroft’s deceptively simple style leads the reader into stories where the ordinary blends subtly into the extraordinary. His capacity to hold the reader’s interest during this journey demonstrates an art that is infrequently seen among modern authors: that of using language plainly but poetically. This is a rare talent.”