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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)
Oksa Pollock 1: The Last Hope
by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf
Age Range: 12+
Oksa is a normal thirteen-year-old girl starting a new life in London or so she thinks. But from day one at her new school strange things start to happen. Luckily, she has her best friend Gus, who has also moved to London with his parents, to confide in.
Oksa discovers that she has amazing powers; she can produce fire from her hands, move objects with her mind and even fly but she has no idea how or why until her grandmother Dragomira tells her the truth – how her family, who have become known as ‘The Runaways’, fled from the magical world of Edefia many years before unable to return. It is Oksa who now represents their last hope of ever returning.
Between her parents Pavel and Maria Pollock, her unpleasant and sinister maths teacher, Mr McGraw, her great uncle Leomido and Dragomira’s godfather, Abakum there are a wealth of strange named creatures that fill this 500 page+ book including Ptitchkin, tiny gold birds that sit on perches dangling Dragomira’s ears; the Getorix, who have the appearance of a ‘large frizzy-haired potato’, the Goranov, a strange looking plant with mysterious powers and the funny Lunatrixes who are 2.5 feet tall with pudgy faces – one plump, one thin.
Oksa is a feisty heroine who is always able to rise to the challenge no matter how hard. There is a lot to take in; the novel is full of eccentric detail and you almost need a dictionary to follow all the often unpronounceable new words that describe the mysterious supernatural powers and their antidotes. The translator Sue Rose has done an excellent job in capturing the complexities within the story as its success really rests on how well these elements transfer into another language.
Fantasy lovers will enjoy this latest addition to the genre by French authors Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf which has already sold half a million copies around the globe and is gathering an ever-increasing fan base. Readers will need to wait though for The Forest of Lost Souls, volume two in the series to find out what happens to Oksa next.