Emily Rodda (text) and Marc McBride (illustrator), The Glimme, Scholastic Australia, October 2019, 384 pp., RRP $34.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781862919570
Young Finn lives with his grandparents in Wichant, an old fishing town. He is a gifted drawer and loves to draw dragons and giants, but his overbearing grandfather disapproves of his drawing. When the strange housekeeper of a mysterious mansion offers to buy Finn for his talents, his grandfather agrees. Finn is taken to the mansion and is told to copy a series of huge paintings, to perfect them. He practices day after day, then one day he falls through one of the paintings into the Glimme. There, he is thrust into the world of the paintings. War is raging, dragons are attacking, and a man called Teller is trying to negotiate peace with them. But they won’t agree to the man’s terms because the dragon queen has been kidnapped by a man called Rune, and naturally, they want their queen back. Finn finds himself a member of a strange party led by Teller to find Rune and bring back the dragon queen. It’s a perilous journey involving bogwights and sea monsters and giants. Finn is accompanied by Lori, who fell into the Glimme from Wichant, and Lone Annie, an old lady who foretells each of the dangers they face.
In true Emily Rodda style, the book is a like puzzle and it’s only at the end that the pieces fall into place and Finn, and the reader, understands why he was brought to the Glimme. Finn may begin his journey as a passive observer, but he learns and grows and becomes what the old housekeeper saw in him in the beginning.
The book is magnificently illustrated by Marc McBride, who brought Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest books to life. Each full-coloured illustration graces a full or double-page spread and conveys as much as what Finn sees with his eyes and what he sees with his imagination. With a stunning hard cover, it is a beautiful book to hold.
The Glimme uses simpler language than Deltora Quest so will appeal to reluctant and struggling readers who adore diving into fantasy worlds. The content is high adventure but not gruesome so it will suit sensitive readers.
Once again, Emily and Marc have delivered a gripping read that begs a second reading to pick out the clues that lead to the final twist.
Reviewed by Pam Ueckerman