Garth Nix & Sean Williams (authors)
Allen & Unwin, Australia: May 2011
Genres: adventure, fantasy
Issues: family, gifted, identity, values
Jack and Jade, twins, are astonished when their house somehow explodes around them on their thirteenth birthday and they are suddenly on their way to stay with the paternal grandmother they've never met. Portland seems boring but Grandma X is not merely eccentric, she's downright strange. And possibly a witch.
Not to mention the very strange things that seem to be happening in this otherwise very ordinary town. And then there are Grandma X's two cats, Ari and Kleo: surely Jack can't really hear them speaking English? And why are there suddenly swarms of flies, beetles, cockroaches, mice and rats wherever they go? And isn't it just a little bit... odd... to keep hearing a voice inside your head? Jack and Jade's normal life has gone forever; their father, as always, is 'away on business' and their mother (a paramedic) is busy saving lives. It's just the twins, two cats and a very unusual older woman and it looks as if they might just have to save the world.
Garth Nix is known to most fantasy fans for his brilliant Lirael, Sabriel & Abhorsen, as well as The Keys to the Kingdom series. Sean Williams (http://seanwilliams.com/bio/) is a well-regarded writer for adults and children. Putting two such creative, experienced writers together is an inspired decision that has led to the first in what will undoubtedly be a fascinating series of books. Unfortunately there is little yet online about this collaborative creative process. However they managed it, Nix & Williams have produced a powerful, action-packed novel that throws the reader in at the deep end – just like Jade & Jack. Troubletwisters is not for 'armchair readers'; it requires involvement; you have to think. Readers are only given as much information as Jack and Jade – less, in fact, as the twins know their own history, something that is only released to the reader in small bites.
What is particularly enjoyable about this book is that because they are twins, Jack and Jade are co-protagonists. For once the girl is not the sidekick but shares the lead. This is a book that embraces giftedness in all its varieties; it recognises both the power of great potential and the dangers that go with it. This is a novel created by two masters of the craft: complex characters and relationships that avoid stereotypes but embrace archetypes in a modern setting; whimsical touches that appeal to the sophisticated reader; beautiful use of language to build a believable context. This is a novel that invites the reader in; this is a novel that will have readers looking over their shoulder and out of the corners of their eyes in case it merges with their own.
Very readable and a refreshingly original narrative, Troubletwisters is the beginning of a great series.
Did you know?
was just great! Thankyou for organising it. These sessions are definitely
fuelling my curiosity and increasing my knowledge on G&T.” An attendee at a NSWAGTC seminar