Wow! 'The Good Hawk' by Joseph Elliot is an extraordinary fantasy adventure. With unique characters, a wildly startling story, and with an uncompromising depth of imaginative power, this is the beginning of a new series destined for awards. Aimed at slightly older readers, 'The Good Hawk' dazzles and challenges quite like no other.
On the Isle of Skye the Clann-a-Tuath live in relative peace. Overseen by the elders, Jamie is learning to become an Angler but he has to manage his anxieties and fears, even though his tribe believe showing fear is a sign of weakness. Agatha is a Hawk, learning to keep watch on the sea walls, which isn't easy with her condition - many want to see her removed from duty. Together, Jamie and Agatha, will soon be thrown into great peril. They will have to face all their fears to embark on a strange and terrifying journey across Scotia to help save their clan from insurmountable danger.
In all honesty, 'The Good Hawk' is an absolutely remarkable book of the highest order. It is gripping, tender, terrifying, gruesome, compassionate funny and often very strange - quite the spectrum! At its heart are two utterly compelling characters, each given their own distinct narrative voice. Agatha is a narrator quite like no-other. In interviews Elliot has revealed that she has a form of Down's syndrome, and the way he writes her is beautiful and funny and just so well done. Not since Christopher Boone in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' have I come across a narrator as unique and inspiring as her. But if this isn't enough, Elliot has also given us Jamie, whose anxiety and panic attacks are also astutely realized - his character arc is hugely uplifting. Together Agatha and Jamie form a duo the likes of which I've never read before - it's simply magic.
Elliot also conveys so much atmosphere and tension in sometimes sparsely beautiful descriptions. His dialogue crackles and lights up every scene. The voice of his narrators breathe life into every event and it is a complete joy to read. Readers' beware: there are some horrifically gory moments as well as parts which are genuinely very dark. But Elliot expertly shines hope into every chapter, and with a plot that is unpredictable, almost dream-like, it is a breathless kind of read. Really, I cannot heap enough praise on this monumental work of fantasy.
I wish Elliott all the best luck with this - it is really deserving of every accolade, not only for shining a light on the specific conditions Agatha and Jamie have, but also for its narrative risk-taking and imaginative nerve. Truly well done!
Thank you to Walker Books for a copy to review.
© 2020 by Chris Soul.