Showing posts with label Neale Osborne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neale Osborne. Show all posts

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lydia's Golden Drum by Neale Osborne

Rating: WORTHY!

Disclosure: After I positively reviewed (yes, I'm positive I reviewed it!) Neale's Lydia's Enchanted Toffee back in November 2015, he and I became email friends, so I am definitely biased here, but I loved this book! The writing is so rich that you feel like you've eaten a tin of toffee by the time you're done reading. You might even get an empathic if not emphatic tooth-ache!

If I had a complaint it would be that the book felt a little bit long, which was fine with me since I was very much into it, but which might not appeal to some readers. I also felt the print version might have been kinder to trees in being a little more compact (the lines were widely spaced), but I have that complaint about a lot of print books, including my own, which is why I refurbished them all last year.

That said, this book is poetic and rich, it's endlessly inventive to an amazing and humbling degree, and it was a joy to read. Lydia is once again called into action with her toffee tin drum and magically empowering toffee, which gives her control over metal (probably including metal dental fillings!). The Jampyrs are evidently on the move and someone has to stop them. Lydia's journey involves meeting up with friends and traveling her Candi world to collect the tools they will need to defeat the horrific jampyr menace and save their planet. Can she succeed? Can she suck toffee? I think you know the answer to that! I recommend this one. It's a sweet read....

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lydia's Enchanted Toffee by Neale Osborne

Rating: WORTHY!

This is an abridged version of the 2009 novel Lydia's Tin Lid Drum, which I have not read. This portion of it, at least, grabbed my attention and imagination. I have confess a certain level of doubt over the merits of a story which is based entirely around children eating candy, but that said, this novel is very playful and a lot of fun. You can tell that the author had a lot of fun writing it, which is a good sign, although I wonder if even this abridged version might be too long for some people. For me it has a decent plot and reasonable pace, although I confess even I wanted to get finished, but that was because I have other things I need to read, not because this wasn't entertaining. Some people might grow tired of the endless word play, but for me, it's very much my style.

Note that this is a British novel which makes no concessions to the US (and "Well played, sir," says I!), so some of the writing may be rather obscure to non-Brits who are not anglophiles.

Lydia Rhodium lives on planet that looks (from the illustrations included) like a climate-changed version of Earth, where much of what we recognize as our planet has been submerged under water, leaving smaller, more isolated continents. She lives in Tinport, in the nation of Likrishka, although she's not actually from there. The entire story plays on the names of varieties of candy and sweets (some of them very British, such as Dolly Mixture), turning them into towns and nations and islands. I enjoyed the word-play but for others it might be overdone or obscure.

The maps distributed through the text will help depict the geography better than I can describe it. The world she inhabits is, on the surface, every child's delight and every dentist's nightmare: it's a candy world, where jellies and toffee (taffy) abound, literally growing on trees, or swimming in the sea. The problem here is that the nation in which she lives has been taken over by Stannic, and evil overlord who is obsessed with creating confectionary, and subjugating everyone by threat and with his metal robots which come in human, dog, bird, and other forms. All children are separated from their parents and raised by despotic 'Maters' - house-mothers cum-slave-drivers. The kids are required to study, and perhaps the best of them might get to work in Stannic's kitchens, as Lydia's much older step sister does. The rest get to work the mines and factories.

The advantage which Lydia has is that she can work magic when she eats a certain type of toffee. Her problem is that she's been denied this particular variety because it's imported and Likrisha no longer has access to it, but unexpectedly, Lydia's cold and uncommunicative sister visits her and leaves her some of this toffee as a gift. Now Lydia has power. She's already been shown to be a rebel, smuggling a cat into her lodging. Now she's on the run, and using her magical power to fend off the robots and stay out of Stannic's clutches. This came to pass along with another unexpected diversion in the story: Lydia meets up with a team of young girls with adorably oddball names and dress sense. This is where they really embark upon a fun and inventive adventure across the continent in search of the magical candies which will bring down Stannic's evil despotism.

The story did seem very long, but overall I enjoyed it and I recommend it was a worthy read.