Ronaldo The Phantom Carrot Snatcher
Disclaimer – I was sent a copy of the book by the author in return for an honest review.
This is a magical funny tale of friendship that warms your heart.
Ronaldo and his best pal Rudi are rookie members of the Reindeer Flying Academy when they discover that carrots are being stolen so they make it their mission to discover the truth, with surprising findings!
This is a wonderful story that has the ability to capture a child’s heart and imagination whilst teaching them valuable lessons about trust and friendship whilst reassuring that bullies never win through. It has been written with much love and attention with excellent illustrations that bring out the sheer joy of the story.
If you have younger children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews I would heartily recommend this book, it is witty, lovely and magical.
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth MacNeal
I had read many excellent reviews of The Doll Factory that I had no option but to read it for myself and make my own judgement.
From the gorgeous cover to the very last word this book had me hooked. It has an underlying sense of unease all the way through it which MacNeal weaves like a thread of silk. You know something unpleasant is going to happen but you just can’t out your finger on what it might be.
The story opens with Silas, a thoroughly unsavoury taxidermist who collects the carcasses of dead animals which he then refreshes and brings new life too. Silas is a desperate person on many levels. We learn of his previous life in Stoke and his unrequited love affair with Flick which has only deepened his strange need to be accepted and recognised both for his work, which in his eyes is earth shatteringly good, and by society. Unfortunately for Iris, his obsessive nature quickly turns towards her.
Iris and her twin sister Rose work for the laudanum fuelled Mrs Salter at her Doll Emporium. Both sisters have physical ailments, Iris has a twisted clavicle that was caused at birth and Rose has facial scarring following an illness. You can sense the unease between the sisters, Iris feels stifled at the Emporium, whilst Rose nestles a deep rooted anger towards Iris blaming her for her disfigurement.
When Iris meets artist Louis she seizes the opportunity to become his muse, in exchange for painting lessons. The very thought of an unmarried women taking this path was shocking to victorian society and Iris knew that by doing so she would be ostracising herself from her family and abandoning her sister to cope alone. But MacNeal makes Iris a strong and spirited young woman who is not scared to challenge society. The relationship between pupil and teacher quickly turns to love, but it is an honest love that vindicates Iris for the decisions she has made.
Then we have Albie, a loveable street urchin who provides Silas with his specimens for a few bob a time. He lives with his sister in unpleasant surroundings but he would do anything to protect her, even if it means taking a beating or placing others at risk. Albie just wants to belong but in a different way to Silas. Albie wants to be loved and he has plenty of love to give in return. He is the linking character that connects Silas to Iris and Rose to Louis.
There is so much more going on in this book than I can mention here but all in all this is a story that sucks you in and drags you deeper and deeper in to the formidable London that MacNeal has deftly created.
It is a compelling story set against the back drop of The Great Exhibition. It questions women’s role in society and puts the spotlight on love, art and family.
I would recommend this book to anyone, for a debut novel it is nothing short of genius.