Sinead O'Hart's writing excites me so much. Plunging into her books is like entering the imagination itself - anything seems possible. 'The Star-Spun Web' is no different. It is an immersive, fantastical web of wonder.
As a baby, Tess de Sousa is abandoned at Ackerbee's Home for Lost and Foundlings under mysterious circumstances. A strange device, a Starspinner, is left with her. After a distant relative comes to adopt Tess and uproot her to an isolated life at Roedeer Lodge, Tess' begins to unravel the mystery of her origins. Gateways to other worlds will open where war rages, and also the promise of finding the truth out about her family...
This is such an engrossing story. What O'Hart does so magnificently is charge her settings with a sizzle of electrifying atmosphere. Everything sparks with imaginative verve; every page crackling with static. With deft skill and a lightness of touch, O'Hart can weave wonder, charm, quiet menace and adventure like a spider writing on silk. In fact, I'm sure O'Hart must have many eyes like a spider to see all the realities her mind dips into.
Like 'The Eye of the North' all her characters are so well-realized, almost Dickensian in their wholeness, while her plots twist and turn and spiral into webs that keep you guessing until the final pages. Like Pullman, Garner, Murakami and Wynne Jones, O'Hart makes the dream real, and the real a dream. Magical devices, alternative realities, weird physics, creepy villains, extraordinary pets and a loyal group of quirky friends are all here; spun together so well. 'The Star-Spun Web', like its predecessor, is dense, challenging and ultimately rewarding. Some children might be hesitant of its size, but many will revel in its daring and scope.
I'm drawn to O'Hart's writing like a moth to a flame. She is the first author this year that I have actively sought to read again. This is high praise indeed. If you haven't dipped into the wonderful web of her books, then do so now!