By Author / Illustrator
Kieran Larwood, David Wyatt
Faber & Faber
Paperback / softback
The Legend of Podkin One-Ear continues in this second Five Realms' adventure from the winner of the Blue Peter Best Story Award.
The bard tiptoes out of his room, the crow-dream still echoing in his head, making him twitch at imaginary creaks of iron wings... The bard must leave Thornbury. It is not safe for him to stay. Rue, his new apprentice, travels with him - keen to learn his trade - and hear the next installment in the legend of Podkin One-Ear...
Podkin and his fellow rabbits have been sheltering in Dark Hollow after their battle with Scramashank. Paz tends to the rabbits with sleeping sickness; Crom meets with the war council . . . Podkin has nothing to do! Frustrated, Podkin goes exploring and discovers an abandoned underground chamber. Armed with the Gift of Dark Hollow, Podkin learns to moonstride, and Paz is rewarded with a magical gift of her own...
'A spellbinding story full of friendship, excitement and magic.' Guardian. 'Kieran Larwood's talent and his passion for his wonderful characters leap off every page.' David Long, author of Survivors.
I have never been more eager to read a sequel. After reading The Legend of Podkin One Ear , I was gripped by the world created by Kieran Larwood; a world of rabbit communities trying to resist the evil darkness and invasion of the evil Gorm (rabbits sinisterly mutated by a poisonous, darkly mysterious metal deep in the earth).
Book 2, The Gift of Dark Hollow, is entitled after another of the Twelve Gifts bestowed on the rabbit tribes by the Goddess who ruled them peacefully at the start of time. These are gifts that the Gorm seek ruthlessly in order to tip the balance of good/evil to their advantage.
The prologue plunges the reader straight back into terrifying past memories of the traumas and fear created by the Gorm army as the narrator cannot escape his recurring, haunting dreams of screeching crows (metal embedded, torn and bloodied Gorm servants). There is a stunning, detailed and powerful double page illustration by illustrator David Wyatt, who again captures brilliantly the drama and tension of the story. For readers of book one, the prologue sends shivers down the spine as they too recall the might and viciousness of the Gorm.
For readers new to the Podkin series, the prologue is a sharp, brutal and gripping introduction that immediately raises the tension level and makes you eager to dive into this adventure. The narration again is a story within a story. The narrative voice is both the author's from outside the story and that of the old bard telling his curious rabbit audience these long ago tales of a brave rabbit called Podkin and how he was a hero of the olden days, still to be revered and celebrated.
The Gift of Dark Hollow moves the reader through the next part of Podkin and his heroic group's quest to find the twelve gifts and stop the Gorm for good. Although all is quiet in Podkin's world at the start of the book, as the group recovers from battles already fought, we know from their constant look outs and war council meetings that danger lurks and peace, surely, will not last. Larwood builds an air of anticipation gradually and leaves us waiting to see what happens next to Podkin.
In the meantime , he cleverly expands the bard's own story and past. The bard chooses a new, enthusiastic apprentice and we learn that the bard, himself, also may be a rabbit in danger. This adds another layer to the tale as now the story has several directions it could travel in. There is a fresh cast of characters that add to the swelling number of those determined to defeat the Gorm.
The Gift of Dark Hollow delves deeper and more dangerously into the evil of the Gorm. Their leader, Scramashank, is again Podkin's worst nightmare. This battle between young, fearful but courageous Podkin and evil incarnate Scramashank is an absolute classic theme in a quest genre. There are powerfully crafted confrontations as Podkin and his comrades rescue victims of the Gorm and search for a vital weapon, the Surestrike hammer, which could help them pierce the almost impenetrable twisted, jagged metal armoured bodies of their enemies.
Adventure, tension and drama from start to finish, The Gift of Dark Hollow is a beautifully crafted quest tale that will absolutely enthrall you.
320 pages / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 7+