Sinead O' Hart writes fantastical fiction for children bursting with ideas. She also wears her influences proudly on her sleeve (listening to her StoryPod Podcast gives an indication of the breadth of her knowledge of children's literature, modern and classic). 'The Time Tider' is perhaps her best book to date. A contemporary fast-paced, sci-fi thriller, full of heart. It is also a sensitive contemplation on the fragility of time, and its meaning for the people we cherish.
Mara and her dad have lived in their van for as long as she can remember. Whatever her father does to scrape a living has kept them constantly moving and Mara has never questioned it. That is until she uncovers a collection of notes addressed to 'the Tider', an individual responsible for harvesting lost time from people whose lives were cut short. But before Mara can question her father he is taken by a dangerous group who want to use his power for evil. With the very fabric of time and space at stake, it's down to Mara and her new friend Jan to find him before it's too late...
What struck me most about 'The Time Tider', compared to Sinead O' Hart's previous books, is the stark and well-rendered contemporary setting. I love the juxtaposition of the reality of Mara and her dad's van in which they live, in contrast to the fantastic shadowy, secret world of being a 'Tider'. Sinead O'Hart has a real talent for world-building; bringing to life complex ideas with a vivid sense of space and scale, while sparking adventures that keep you turning the pages. The idea here of time being 'harvested' or even stolen is brilliant, but it is in its consequences for the characters we come to love that the story really comes to life, adding growing tension and peril that grips. Interspersing extracts from the 'Time Tider's Handbook' is also a clever way of exploring the concept of time further, while framing its ramifications for Mara and others.
Also, isn't the cover just fabulous?
I really recommend Sinead O' Harts books, as well as her podcast. I especially enjoyed her deep-drive into 'Elidor' by Alan Garner. I also cannot wait to read her 'The Silver Road' - coming out in the Autumn. I've heard brilliant things too.