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Fire Girl, Forest Boy - review

When this book comes out in July, it will glow, David Litchfield is doing the cover, even in the mock up on the back and the hints on this proof cover show, it will be stunning.
Then we come to the actual story... Chloe Daykin has already proven her mettle, she is here to tell us so much more form now on I reckon.

It's a blast, it is many layered, very fast and really involving.

We have a scientist whisked of to the Amazon to search for the meaning of light, his daughter Maya approaching teen age is with him and she has questions of her own, she knows little of her mum, seemingly missing or even dead since she was merely three.

She literally collides with the forest folk, namely Raul and later Matias and Steven (he is a lovely silent (or at times not so) character)

We are in Peru, with it's vast landscape of jungle and Amazon river, with hints of chocolate and fruit and barbecued meats wafting away at the senses. We glimpse the darkness and the exotic with  huge Dragonflies, Caimans, Piranhas, Screecher Monkeys and  birds galore, Vultures and Condors notably.

There is much to like about this book, it deals with difficult things, emotions, trust and love, friendship and pain and also very much with nature and ecology. The back plot of illegal and devastating logging is very apt, if ever children needed  a glimpse into what is happening to mother earth and why and how, then books like this are ideal, it's not heavy, it's just right.

We have Matias who has never left the forest,. Raul has, he had to. Matias is almost a shaman, he knows the power of plants and to ask for what the earth and the river give and thank them, he and Raul know the old powers of Pachamamma, Mapinguari and more.

There is a lot of frantic action, it's always believable which is good, so many books are too far fetched, in this one, things hurt and stay hurting.

Eco themes are abundant and all very nicely done, including the consequences for two of the families of the main protagonists.

This book is a great intro into a culture, a very old one, looking at how life is far removed from our own sphere of knowledge, I like the weird need for mobile phones and yet it's sort of only a bit part. There are some excellent suspense scenes, the odd couple that keep hunting down our heroine are described as frog eyed, and slippery and are always just on the fringes of capturing the heroes.

The juxtaposition of football and pain of surroundings is very meaningful. It shows how even in abject poverty some things are seen as essential.
But, have consequences beyond immediate measure.

The constant switching of narration helps us see things clearly, at times I did feel a few chapters were a tiny bit short, but it does help keep the pace going and it's breathless. The motifs of time, light, earth, greed, loss, power and trust are all used equally well.

This is a very well plotted and written book, not really for under 9's unless they've read a few longer books with deeper themes. There is plenty of excitement, the rapport is fab and the nature and mystical elements are all brilliant, the fireballs and how it's used and what it symbolises is superb. Really works well.

I'd say this book is ideal for any 9-15 year old's who want action, friendship, a touch of growing up, something unusual and thoughtful, add a little minor eco-warrior politics and some wonderful critters in, so all in all it's a cracker.

I'd love a glossary of the Inca gods and animals drawn by David in the book though!