‘Shadow Forest’ by Matt Haig

This is a really good book, and I am not surprised that it has won lots of prizes.

The two main characters are children – a girl and a boy – whose parents died in a car crash as part of a birthday surprise. So they had to go to live with their aunt in Norway. She was an Olympic javelin thrower and her husband was an Olympic skier. The children were bored and hated their Aunty.

They lived near the Shadow Forest, and Aunty told them never to go into the Forest because people disappeared there and it was said to be full of evil creatures. When Uncle’s goats were stolen, he found Troll footprints coming from the forest. So Uncle went into forest and never came back.

As I said, the girl got bored, so she decided to go into the Forest. Naturally the boy ran in after her to find out where she had gone. Aunty called to him not to go in, but she was too late.

The rest of the story is about the boy’s journey and the trouble he gets into. He meets magical creatures on the way – some are evil and some are not, and he is befriended by a dog. He stays with some trolls, and comes across the wicked Changemaker who forced a witch to make spells to make the Forest a horrible place.

Eventually the boy finds his sister. Aunty finds them and kills the Changemaker, and all the bad spells are undone and everything changes back. The dog turns out to be Uncle.

This story is really gripping and you never know what is going to happen next. I suppose that it is really trying to say what it is like for children who have lost their parents, feeling that no one cares for them, that they are wandering around facing all sorts of difficulties, until it all comes right and they are happy again.

Haig, Matt (2007) Shadow Forest

Corgi, The Bodley Head, Random House, London

ISBN: 978 0 552 55563 0

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