Today I’m reviewing Little White Hands by Mark Cushen which is released today, so please do check out the book and support the author. This was such a lovely book to read, and it just so happens to perfectly to dovetail with the first prompt for the Wyrd & Wonder challenge: ‘We going on an adventure.’
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
Almost five hundred years have passed since the Seasons were at war.
Half a millennium since Winter defied Spring, and lost.
Generations have come and gone, not knowing the bitter freeze and howling snows of Winter ever existed.
But now, after centuries of silence, the participants in this ancient struggle have resurfaced and reignited their feud on the doorstep of an unassuming little kitchen boy.
Garlan’s dreams of being just like the knights he idolizes may not be as impossible as he has always been led to believe, when he is chased from his home and thrust headlong into the kind of adventure he had only ever read about in books.
Setting out on a journey that spans the entire kingdom of Faeland, Garlan will traverse impossible mountains and stormy seas and battle terrible monsters, all to keep the world he knows safe from an enemy who will stop at nothing to bring about a never-ending winter.
With a cast of fantastical characters to aid him in his quest, can Garlan overcome his self-doubt and find the courage he needs to rise above his humble station and become the hero he always dreamed of being?
The fate of the world rests in his hands.
“This will be a treacherous journey, Garlan, should the High Seasons decide to let you embark on it. There will be terrible perils along the way, and I daresay we will not return home completely unscathed if we return at all.”
Little White Hands was a book that caught my attention from the blurb alone, and the mention of the Seasons being at War. By complete chance, there is an aspect of that in one of the D&D campaigns I’m in at the moment, so it immediately resonated, but there was just something about ‘Almost five hundred years have passed since the Seasons were at war. Half a millennium since Winter defied Spring and lost.’ The entire blurb caught my intention, but that part intrigued me, and I leapt at the chance to read it. Then I saw the cover, which I love – I am a little biased towards foxes – but I just love everything from the colours to the composition, and after reading the book, it is a perfect representation of this tale. And as an added bonus point there is a map!!
I was immediately taken with Cushen’s approach and writing style in this book, it opens like a tale of old, and both the language and the tone had me smiling and knowing that I was going to enjoy this book before I’d even finished the first page. There is a whimsy and warmth to this book, and even though I wasn’t necessarily the target audience for this book – it’s middle grade, albeit with a few darker moments – it wrapped itself around me, and it was a pleasure to lose myself in the story. This is very much a fantastical adventure, steeped in high fantasy, but there was a comfort to this story – partly because the start does have you imagining that you’re sat around a fire in an old tavern listening to a bard regaling you with a tale of adventure, and there are many places where it felt like a hug in a book without ever losing the excitement and forward momentum of the story.
The characters had a charm all of their own. I have a soft spot for coming-of-age stories, and Garlan was a character that I just had to root for, there’s a wonderful blend of innocence, lack of experience and determination and he was one of my favourites. The other was Oldface, who had a way about him that had me laughing and looking forward to what he would say next. I felt that all the characters were well written, and fitting for the world, although I did find it very male-dominated.
I enjoyed the worldbuilding, which had a similar sense of whimsy to the writing. There were some places in particular where it had an almost Ghibli-esque vibe which was wonderful. This was very much a high fantasy world, but Cushen put his own spin on it, and I very much enjoyed the journey across this world with Garlan and his companions and seeing the different regions, creatures and people. There was a breadth and depth to the world that was fitting for the story, without losing the whimsy that is such a dominant and wonderful characteristic of this book.
I had so much fun with this book, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Garlan Greatheart. A brilliant debut that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend, particularly for anyone in search of adventure with more than a little whimsy along the road.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.