It is often thought that it is probably easy to write for children, but I won’t be the first to say that actually, writing for children is very difficult. You have to capture their attention from the very beginning and keep it trapped, stubbornly refusing to let it go because if you do, the child will simply ignore the rest of the book without so much as a question. I think it is fair to say that N.S. Trigger’s The Weird Case of Mrs Etherington-Strange is exceptionally well written, addictive and creative.
Bethany moves into a new home located in WindyFalls, a town that has evolved from extensive amounts of corn fields to having its very own waterfall in the town centre. Bethany is seven and is a girl of curious nature, whom happens to stumble upon a secret staircase under her bed, which leads to a magical kitchen. It is here where she meets the great high witch, Mrs Etherington-Strange. After agreeing to become her apprentice, Bethany learns more about the world down the staircase, or up in the clouds as it turns out, called Strataton. All is not as it first seems however, as Bethany is quick to discover that Mrs Etherington-Strange holds many a secret and she must decide what to do next in this fantastic magical world. Only a mysterious man by the name of Mr Midnight can help her, but unfortunately he is an unsavoury fellow who trades in the most darkest of things as Bethany and her newly acquainted friends are to discover.
What I love most about this book is that it is highly original and very well structured, not giving the reader too much information all at once, but carefully revealing its secrets along the way. What an inventive imagination Trigger must have! It’s almost a book that has been taken upside down, given a big shake and returned to its original place, still reeling with the effects of its dizzying ordeal.
Imagine; Goblins that read your mind, Dragons that fire cheese instead of fire, Unicorns made of white chocolate. It’s as if Trigger has combined the fantasy epic of CS Lewis and the wacky imagination of Roald Dahl. He loves to play with words and create new and weird combinations to the most ordinary of things. If Mrs Etherington-Strange isn’t enough for you, try Lamb Posts with real live sheep, or clouds made of pink candyfloss.
It can get a little dark at times, so the younger reader might be a little worried and it does tackle some complicated themes, time travel and paradox being to name but two. It is all cleverly told though and even though I would say that the book is written for children between 7 – 12, I think it has a charming quality to it that anybody of any age could read and enjoy.
If your child has a wild imagination and loves stories with recognisable and heart warming characters, then I’d most definitely recommend The Weird Case of Mrs Etherington-Strange. It is also important to note that it is the first book in a series, with the second book already out and the third due out very soon indeed. If Harry Potter is a bit to formulaic for you and you fancy a wild trip with cheesy dragons and pink candy floss lamb posts, be sure to add this to your wish list.