‘The badger sent me’, says Linnet’s friend Petroc by way of explanation, when he turns up unexpectedly in the middle of Lucy Coats’s book Hootcat Hill. I just can’t resist a line like that.
Linnet discovers to her surprise that she is the Maiden Guardian, and that her village Wyrmesbury is about to be devoured by a previously dormant monster, unless she steps in and does courageous stuff with magic she didn’t even know she possessed.
So far in life Linnet has had few friends, apart from Petroc, and she is bullied at school. Her parents don’t pay as much attention to her as she’d like, and they hardly notice when she has her first lessons in magic, staying out late at night.
This is a lovely book, which reminded me a little of Jonathan Stroud’s Buried Fire. It also made me think of Alan Garner. It has a timeless feel to it, which is welcome, when so many books are defined by the point in time when they were written. Hootcat Hill could have been written longer ago than last year when it was first published, and I hope that means its appeal will last a long time.
Lucy has borrowed freely from ‘existing’ myths and our own world, while setting her story in another world, and changing facts and names ever so slightly. It’s modern and seemingly normal, while also being totally new and different. And it’s nice with a heroine who giggles and makes inappropriate jokes while trying to impress the creatures she meets en route on her rescue mission.
Have to wonder how Lucy could base her character Gilla on me, though?