by Cat Weatherill
Review by Carolyn Frank
Walker Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780802797995
Date: 16 September 2008 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
What happens after the Pied Piper of Hamelin leads the children away? As told from the perspective of two of the children, Marianna and her younger brother Jakob, and Finn the piper, the story winds away from the bleak town, now devoid of both rats and children, to the colorful world beneath the hill where Wild Magic holds forth. Intended for the original Harry Potter audience of young nearly-tween age children but enjoyable by anyone who fancies fantasies, this book provides both the back-story of the piper and the answer to the age-old question of what happened next.
Marianna is a pretty twelve year old girl who, since her mother died a few years before, has been keeping house for her father and brother. After her mother's death, her father, the town shoemaker, has turned to drink to drown his sorrows. She does her best to care for her crippled brother Jakob, attempting to shield them both from their father's drunken rages. Despite his crippled legs, Jakob is an optimistic nine year old boy who tries his best to do chores. He spends his free time with the oldest town inhabitants, attempting to avoid his peers who take pleasure in baiting and taunting him.
Finn is half-human, half-elf. When just a boy he defied all authority and ran into the deep woods. A magical price was exacted from him and now, two hundred plus years later, he is attempting to find his own peace. He has never truly grown-up and continues to exhibit all of the thoughtlessness and selfishness that got him into trouble in the first place.
This story is filled with magic, both wild and tame. Wild magic is magic of the land, primarily of its ancient forests. This magic is timeless, infinite and deep. Tame magic is the more typical sort of shape-changing, illusion-making, and chore-easing spells cast by elves and similar magical folk. For readers, the book's internal magic is that of a well-crafted tale, told by a master story-teller. As the author is a professional story-teller, the book's wording and cadences lend themselves well to being read aloud. So regardless of how you choose to enter this fantasy, if you or someone you know enjoys fairy tales, here is a magical treat.