Grammar enthusiast. Cat lover. Illustrator. Slytherin. Loki's Army. Spending a lot of time reading the world. And fanfiction. .
Actually at: www.thelittlecrocodile.com
This is easily one of the best fantasy books I have read in the past few years.
When thirteen-year-old Delphine and her parents relocate to Alderberen Hall to join a strange and elite society for the ‘perpetual improvement of man’, she is immediately suspicious. Within minutes of entering the estate, Delphine overhears a conversation that has her convinced the society is a front for some nefarious plot to facilitate an invasion (by communists? Germans?!) into England. But, before long, the true intent of the league is revealed and it is nothing quite so pedestrian…
The style of the writing is wonderfully fluid and the descriptions, the turns of phrase that Clare uses are spot on without being clichéd, often conveying a feeling of a sinister foreshadowing.
Mother stood in the middle of a chequered marble floor, like the last piece in a chess game
A figure stood in the doorway. He was soaked through; his trousers shone like sealskin. His shirt was nearly transparent, save for thick arterial creases lining his arms.
The phrasing reflects a poet’s observation and makes each sentence a pleasure to read, something that holds true for the dialogue as well. Particularly enjoyable are the interactions between Delphine and Mr Garforth, and the professor’s awkwardness and dialogue also quickly make you grow fond of him.
‘There was a scout.’
Mr Garforth looked up. ‘Were you spotted?’
‘I killed him,’ she said. ‘It.’
He raised his wispy eyebrows. ‘What range?’
‘Sixty yards.’ She caught his frown. ‘Fifty. Forty. I hid the body.’
She set her gun down by the stove. ‘What’s for dinner?’
A spider was scuttling across the table. He slammed his palm on it, scooped it up and popped it into his mouth.
‘You’re not funny.’
He unfurled his fist, revealing the spider, unharmed. Delphine frowned to disguise a smile.
– from the first chapter of The Honours
Delphine is an insatiably curious and impish protagonist, easy to like and constantly keeping the action moving. Frequently dismissed by the adults at Alderberen Hall, she spends her days in espionage, trying to discover the society’s secrets. The young heroine comes across as a little unstable at times, eager for glory and obsessed with guns and combat, but the reality is that she’s alone amidst a clique of strangers and adults who don’t so much ignore as overlook her completely.
What should be noted is that this isn’t a gritty realist novel.
The characters, while sure of themselves and vividly portrayed, are just that – characters. This isn’t a bad thing, by any means: I for one enjoy a book that is comfortable in its incarnation. I only mention this because, looking at a couple of other reviews of The Honours, I want you to know what sort of story you’re in for here. There will be dirt and grit and blood, and there will be thrilling escapades. Personally, I adored every minute and it only racks up excellence as it hurtles on, like a daring ball of adventure tearing down Fantasy Hill.
I have seen The Honours heralded as ‘one of the most exciting pieces of fantasy fiction in recent years’, and this is far from a generous assessment. The book is simply a pleasure, through and through.
Well-paced and richly painted, Clare’s debut lives up to the hype and I can only hope that we can expect more content of this calibre in the future.
The Honours is available to buy as of today, 2 April 2015. I was send an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.