Grammar enthusiast. Cat lover. Illustrator. Slytherin. Loki's Army. Spending a lot of time reading the world. And fanfiction. .
Actually at: www.thelittlecrocodile.com
‘Stories are the truth beyond the flat, stone world,’ he says. ‘There’s more fire inside the engine than the wheels. That’s what it is.’
‘I’m cold,’ I say.
‘The world turns on its axis, but people turn on their souls. Things you can’t see, boy, support what you can.’
‘We tell stories to fly, you said.’
Is he proud of me? I hope so. I want him to be.
When Oli is uprooted from his home in London and taken on an impromptu vacation to stay at his aunt and uncle’s house, he is confused. Why did they have to leave so suddenly and to visit a relative whom he has never met? Why is his mother acting so nervous, what is she hiding? And where is his dad?
Despite what his family tells him, Oli knows this isn’t just a regular vacation; something has happened, something big, and no one wants him to find out what it is. But that isn’t the only strange thing.
There’s also Eren.
Eren, the strange, dark creature with the hoarse voice and ragged wings. Eren, that lives in this house, in the hatch above Oli’s bed. Eren, that’s always watching, always whispering…
The book is about stories and about their power.
I find it difficult to find fault with Eren, which so much reminded me of David Almond’sSkellig as well as Neil Gaiman’s writing style when I first started it, but which asserted its own presence quickly and enveloped me within its stories, always so many stories. The book is very well written and really engaging, to the point that I can confidently say that it didn’t bore me for a moment; I was never tempted to put the book down and go and do something else. And it isn’t only for children; as the preface is quick to tell you:
This is a story about storytelling.
It’s not for children any more than it’s for adults. This is a story for readers and dreamers – for people who know that there’s a wolf in every story and darkness in every dream, just as much as there are heroes and magic.
There are also illustrations in the book, which is always a welcome touch – more books need pictures, in my opinion. These are vague, almost dreamlike, and black and white, helping to set the eerie tone of the story and the fact that the book, the story Oli tells, is just that – a story in itself.
We are all stories.
Every chapter begins with a short dialogue between Oli and Eren, and these are set aside from the rest of the narrative, keeping the feeling of unease building as they hint at a missing piece of Oli’s story and Eren’s motivations.
In the same way that the book will envelope you as you read it, so Eren keeps drawing Oli back to him: even when the thought of the creature terrifies the boy, he keeps coming back. The fantasy of Eren’s stories is an addictive diversion from Oli’s own life, which is filled with stories far more stark and sombre. What is Oli’s mother keeping from him? Why does he get strange looks from people he doesn’t know as he wanders through this nowhere place, this small country town? Where is his dad?
To Oli, Eren is the fantastic, the unseen, the shadow lurking just out of sight – and he’s also his teacher and his escape. But at what cost?
As well as the spine-tinglingly sinister and ambiguous Eren, Oli meets Em and Takeru, a couple of local kids with their own stories and secrets. The interactions between the three are some of my favourite parts of Eren, and it is very interesting to read how the kids handle and react to the separate world of the grown-ups.
I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. If you like stories, fantasy, fairy tales and secrets, then pick up Eren – you won’t be disappointed.
Tell the story to its end.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.