Now I had been saving this book to read whilst snuggled up in the Christmas holidays as I knew Millwood Hargrave’s writing was going to whisk me away to an enchanted, frozen landscape and I wanted to savour it. Going to the in-laws’ to sit by their log fire was the perfect opportunity.
Mila lives alone with her three siblings in their cabin in the forest, following the death of their mother and disappearance of their father. Life is hard, but together the four of them manage to get along.
All is fine until a mysterious and threatening man on horseback arrives at their door asking for food and shelter. Mila just can’t shake the feeling that there’s something unnatural about him, and is relieved when her brother, Oskar, tells them men to stay outside and he will bring them moss for a fire.
However, When morning comes, the men have left, but so Oskar, leaving behind their father’s garnet ring. Mila and her sisters resolve to get their brother back and set off on an extraordinary journey across frozen lands to magical kingdoms with a little help from the boy-mage, Rune.
This wonderful books crackles with magic, carefully entwined with folklore and tradition. I loved the accurate depiction of sibling relationships – the pushes and pulls and fierce love which binds them. As Mila’s sled rushes over snow and ice, and winds along narrow tracks, you’ll be right there alongside her, willing her own.
Another triumphant title from one of the great modern children’s authors. Most suitable for readers aged 9+.