Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Various

The Various

Steve Augarde
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
David Fickling Books, 2004   ISBN: 978-0385750295

Midge’s mother is sending her to stay with her brother, Uncle Brian, for the summer. A highly successful and very busy concert violinist, Midge’s mother is off on tour with her orchestra and simply won’t take Midge with her no matter how much her daughter pleas with her. Thus it is that Midge is packed off to Uncle Brian’s ramshackle farm in the country. Midge is prepared to be bored out of her mind, at least until her cousins George and Katie arrive, but the most extraordinary adventure of her life soon has her too busy to feel homesick.

While exploring around the farm one day Midge comes upon an injured creature. It is the most amazing animal being a tiny winged horse which is able to communicate with her in some magical way. The horse doesn’t speak exactly and yet Midge ‘hears" his voice in her head. The horse, who says his name is Peg, lives in an impenetrable wood with a small people that he calls "the Various." The Various are in fact what we call ‘fairies" and yet they are quite different from the fairy tale little people that we read about in books. These people are " about knee-height" and only a few of them have wings. Some of them dwell underground and most are scruffy and suspicious. They are also a determined and often fierce people who are fighting for their survival.

Midge soon learns that the Various are facing a very difficult future. It was because of this that Peg left the safety of the wood in the first place. The wise and remarkable little horse had gone in search of a new home or new source of food for the Various. Their own wood is providing them with less and less food and it will not be able to support them for much longer. Midge soon has the unenviable job of telling Peg, and the Various, that her uncle Brian is planning to sell off the wood to developers.

What Midge does not know at first is that the Various and her family are closely tied, the one to the other. A long time ago another "Gorji," or human, girl from the farm had a relationship with the Various. How this relationship came about is a mystery but it affected both the girl and the Various she came to befriend.

The question now is: what can be done to protect and save these little people? Some of them are very dangerous, whereas others are happy to accept Midge’s help.

In this first book of three about the Various the author creates a peculiar and exciting world for his characters. We never quite know what to expect next. The Various are unpredictable and elusive and Midge is on uncharted territory. Both Midge and the Various that she meets find themselves learning new things about one another every day. Gripping, magical, and beautifully crafted, "The Various" is a book which offers up a new way of looking at the world around us.

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