I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Indigo on 7th November 2013
Genres: Fairy Tale, YA
A young soldier, a captive princess, witches, wolves and Death walk hand in hand in COSTA AWARD winner Sally Gardner's exquisitely written new novel inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, THE TINDERBOX, illustrated by David Roberts.
Otto Hundebiss is tired of war, but when he defies Death he walks a dangerous path. A half beast half man gives him shoes and dice which will lead him deep into a web of dark magic and mystery. He meets the beautiful Safire - pure of heart and spirit, the scheming Mistress Jabber and the terrifying Lady of the Nail. He learns the powers of the tinderbox and the wolves whose master he becomes. But will all the riches in the world bring him the thing he most desires?
Fairy tales are often the cruellest stories of all; in this exquisite novel Sally Gardner writes about great love and great loss.
What worked: Fairy tale retellings. They’re awesome, right? In the book world, there seems to have been a massive influx in the amount of fairy tales retold and for the most part, they are all excellently done. But I started to get a little jaded when seeing the same ones at every time: Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood etc. So when I heard that Indigo were publishing a very dark and obscure tale based on The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Andersen, I jumped at the chance to read it.
Tinder is one of the darkest and creepiest books ever to grace my bookshelf. For a smaller book, it packs a punch! Otto is fed up of death and makes a decision that leads him on a very unusual path. Along this path, we meet some very bizarre and horrifying creatures that might make an appearance in my future nightmares. Otto isn’t your typical protagonist, for someone so young he has seen a crapload of death. Sally Gardner reminds us that war doesn’t ever leave winners behind, only survivors who have to live with its image every day. This is why I don’t blame Otto for falling hook, line and sinker for Safire who takes refuge in the same tree as him and disappears without a trace. When all you’ve known is darkness, you grasp onto the light tighter than ever and this story is very dark indeed.
The wolves peppered throughout the story, the tinderbox that grants your heart’s desire and the terrifying Lady of the Nail aren’t for the faint hearted but Sally Gardner’s beautiful writing ensnare you. Every word is carefully crafted to produce some fantastic imagery and it’s easy to see why she has so many fans, I’m definitely counting myself as one of them here on out!
What irked: I really enjoyed Tinder (when I was reading it through my fingers) but as it’s set in an older and more fantastical world, the language sometimes tripped me up and disconnected me from the story. I also didn’t completely believe in the romance. I get that Otto and Safire are kindred spirits but the depth of their feelings for each other after such a short time didn’t quite ring true but then fairy tales are never really realistic.
Reflecting on Tinder: 4 Stars – This book is really good, a definite rereader.