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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
A House Without Mirrors
by Marten Sanden
Age Range: 9-11
Eleven-year-old Thomasine has spent months living in her great-great-aunt Henrietta’s rambling old house with her dysfunctional family - father, aunt Kajsa, Uncle Daniel and her cousins, Wilma, Erland and Signe. While her father’s siblings bicker about how much the house is worth her elderly aunt is lying upstairs close to death and her father is an empty shell of his former self, still mourning the death of Thomasine’s younger brother Martin.
The odd thing about Henrietta’s house is that there are no mirrors anywhere. In fact, the house holds an incredible secret. When Thomasine’s five-year-old cousin Signe makes a discovery; a wardrobe full of mirrors through which you can step into a different world, everything changes. The house appears familiar at first but the furniture and pictures are often in different places, and then there is the mysterious young girl who always appears.
Each member of the family, including Thomasine and her father learn something from their experience in the wardrobe of mirrors and their lives are changed for ever.
This hauntingly, beautiful tale narrated by Thomasine is from one of Sweden’s bestselling children’s authors, Marten Sanden. This is a sophisticated story dealing with love, loss and grief, and family relationships. Reminiscent of an old-fashioned classic story with many similarities to Tom’s Midnight Garden in theme, this novel cannot fail to be uplifting.
The translation is excellent, all the more so because Karin Altenberg is Swedish and has translated the ‘other’ way around. The black-and-white illustrations by Moa Shulman are evocative and add to the ethereal quality of the story.