There are some books one remembers distinctly from childhood because of the immense impact they had at the time on the developing individual. I have memories of A Wizard of Earthsea bound up in blood and trauma.
I was gifted the tome by some long forgotten maiden aunt of my pater’s who had included a hand scripted note saying how she thought the cover looked like it was ‘a good book for a little boy’. I should probably add that said maiden great-aunt was profoundly immersed in art deco, dadaism and surrealism. Left to myself I would not have opened the thing and would have slipped it into the bag of items Mumsie always kept for The Less Fortunate and shipped out to a charity shop once full.
But Pater had other plans. It seemed I was required not only to write a loquacious and sycophantic thank you letter to said maiden great-aunt, it was also required that I first read the wretched thing and pass comment upon how profoundly it had moved my innocent young soul. In other words, a review.
From the wisdom and experience of adulthood, I can look back fondly on my child-self and laugh at my puerile folly in thinking this was some show of esteem and affection for his aunt from my father. As I recall the inheritance netted him enough to double his investments overnight.
I still have the review, which I wrote with a cartridge pen on the back page of the book and in the process inflicted a paper-cut on my innocent childish fingers. My first ever.
A boy called Dunny, or Sparrowhawk or Ged is good at magic and goes to a kind of Hogwarts on an island. There he learns magic and gets in a fight with the school bully. He loses his shadow and he and his best friend have to find it again.
It was a very annoying book because the boy could have won by using the magic stone but for some reason decided not to.
Stars: One and a half.