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Beg steal or burrowFantasy currently abounds in childrens and teen literature But magic realism is much less common And it is a form used with tremendous metaphorical power in Sonya Hartnetts haunting Thursdays Child Walker 499 pp218 Set in Australia during the Depression the story is narrated by Harper Flute middle daughter of a family trying to scrape a living from land that is so unforgiving that only trapping rabbits brings in a regular incomeHarpers little brother Tin nearly dies when a riverbank caves in on him After a rescue which is more like a birth as the mud gives him up he gradually becomes a child of the earth constantly burrowing and digging becoming wilder and less human as the years go by He is like a mythical creature a changelingMeanwhile the familys fortunes worsen Tin starts his subterranean life by creating a system of tunnels and pits underneath the cabin Eventually the house collapses and with it their fathers will to continue fighting the land Another toddler sibling falls into a well and is buried alive Despite Tins efforts to rescue him he dies Harper watches as her sister is disappointed in love her father starts to drink instead of work and her brother in despair sells his beloved horse and leaves homeThen one day Tin turns up carrying a dripping bundle the size of a baby What is this gift and what can it mean for the family There is a double twist at the end of the book which takes your breath away Beautiful and gripping writing which draws you back even as you finish the novel 12 to adultTwo novels that are more straightforwardly supernatural are Joan Aikens The Scream Macmillan 999 pp86 and Catherine Storrs The If Game OUP 699 pp154 In The If Game Stephen is desperate to know what happpened to his mother who vanished eight years previously when he was four His father refuses to speak
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