Tinder by Sally Gardner
Otto Hundebiss is tired of war, but when he defies death he walks a dangerous path, crossing from the battlefields of the past to a timeless world of dark magic and mystery…

While lying bloody and badly wounded Otto Hundebiss encounters Death collecting his harvest during the battle of Breitenfeld.

What happens next is either a dying fever dream or a darkly magical encounter with the supernatural.

Fairy tales were originally dark and bloody stories that were not used to entertain children until they were sanitised and had much of their violence removed. Sally Gardner turns The Tinder Box, (originally a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson) into a dark fable steeped in magic, folklore and shell shock.

Brutally paraphrasing 1 Corinthians here (and adding a bit in) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and read as a child. But when I grew up I put away childish things. I thought that I had lost the gift of being entranced so completely that the sense of wonder and thrill at being so absorbed inside a story that it was like I was there alongside Otto Hundebiss experiencing the horrors and wonders that he endured. It is a feeling I have not experienced since I was a child – it may have something to do with the connecting with the bit of my brain that loves fairy tales or it could be Sally’s skill at weaving a story of such depth and wonder that I could not help but become ensnared!

Otto is a wonderful POV character and Sally’s knack for capturing character’s voices is still as strong as ever!

Tinder is a dark and wonderful a mix of magic, witches, werewolves and curses set during the Thirty Years War in Europe – not a story for younger readers but perfect for readers that like an undercurrent of darkness entwined with their fairy tales!

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