A gorgeous fantasy in the spirit of Pan’s Labyrinth “that will appeal to those who loved Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things” (Library Journal, starred review).
Set in a world similar to our own, during a war that parallels World War II, A Green and Ancient Light is the stunning story of a boy who is sent to stay with his grandmother for the summer in a serene fishing village. Their tranquility is shattered by the crash of a bullet-riddled enemy plane, the arrival of grandmother’s friend Mr. Girandole—a man who knows the true story of Cinderella’s slipper—and the discovery of a riddle in the sacred grove of ruins behind grandmother’s house. In a sumptuous idyllic setting and overshadowed by the threat of war, four unlikely allies learn the values of courage and sacrifice.
Durbin (Dragonfly) returns to adult fiction with this quiet, charming tale of a young boy in a deliberately obscured setting; most of the characters are left nameless, and all the reader knows is that this is a time of war. Sent to spend the summer with a grandmother he's never met, the boy finds more of an adventure than he could have expected. One of his grandmother's mysterious old friends arrives in the night to ask for their help rescuing an enemy soldier whose plane was shot down nearby. The effort to hide the soldier leads them to a ruined garden in the woods that's filled with statues of monsters. The boy's wonder and astonishment suffuses the narrative as he and the others work to solve the puzzle presented by the garden. The prose is frequently as beautiful as the images it evokes: "They had forgotten all about me, but I didn't mind. It was good to hear them talking this way, their voices warm and soft and worn as old leather." Durbin skillfully ties together the shared quest of three generations even as one of them, the boy's father, is rendered absent by the war. This gentle, engaging, and very personal coming-of-age story is mythic in its universality.
A new favorite author
Childhood wonders come to life. Beautifully written.