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Sarah Driver recommends Five Brilliant Books

Posted on 13th March 2017 by Sally Campbell
Sarah Driver’s debut novel The Huntress: Sea has all the hallmarks of a classic. An expertly crafted tale of adventure on open seas that pits a feisty thirteen-year-old heroine, Mouse, and her family against a terrible enemy, on waters where peril lies waiting at every turn. It’s a book redolent with vivid imagery that manages to capture the best of epic fantasy with storytelling that feels as ancient as stories themselves. Going in search of the stories that inspire such a vibrant imagination, we asked the author to recommend five of the books that have inspired her most.

      

1. A Necklace of Raindrops and other stories by Joan Aiken. Illustrated by Jan Pienkowski

‘From under his grey cloak he pulled out a fine, fine silver chain. On the chain were three bright, shining drops.’

I may have been involved in a bookworms’ scrap over my primary school’s much-coveted only copy of this book. Everything about it captivated me, from the distinctive illustrations featuring silhouettes against vivid, fantastical scenes, to the idea of owning a necklace of raindrops that gives you the power to start or stop the rain with a clap of your hands.

                  

    

2. Spellhorn by Berlie Doherty.

‘The moon that night was like water, draining down into a misty sky.’

The book tells the story of Laura, a child with a visual impairment who rides the unicorn Spellhorn into the magical world of the Wild Ones. It was written with the help of four children also experiencing visual loss - the author credits them for helping her to see with her ‘mind’s eye’. I spent at least one summer holiday thinking and speaking in the ‘wordspeak’ of the Wild Ones, whose idiosyncratic use of language is uniquely expressive.

      

 
3. Wild by Jay Griffiths

‘Absolute truancy…I felt its urgent demand in the blood.’

Defying the usual category of nature or travel writing, this ‘elemental journey’ is a raucous love song for the deep exploration of wildness. It took the author seven years and every last scrap of energy to write. She visited Amazon shamans, anchored a boat to an iceberg where polar bears slept and hung out with sea gypsies. This book is my favourite travel companion on long journeys. I recommend it to anyone who has ever felt the call of the wild singing in their veins. Be warned: it’ll make you want to bunk off.

 

   
4. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis 

‘This wood was very much alive…it was a rich place: as rich as plumcake.’

I first read this curled up on the sofa with my mum, both of us hopelessly lost in the book’s magical world. I loved the descriptions of hidden places where children could have secret adventures, the enticing yellow and green rings, and the eerie ‘wood between the worlds’, with its pools of water serving as portals to other realms.

       

  
5. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

‘But in from that night kept sidling the thin black witch who was the pain.’

A startling, masterly re-working of the fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red. If any book has ever staggered me breathless with its rawness, immediacy and originality, it’s this one. Once I’d put the book down, it pretended innocence, but I knew better—I could still feel the magic seeping between its closed pages. 

   

     

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