A book review! Because those are not really a thing that we do, but it’s the holidays.
Mostly we don’t spend a lot of our time reviewing books because we spend 75% of our days talking and thinking about the books that we publish, and to say anything more about them we’d have to start breaking out terms like ‘ontological empiricism,’ which are tiring to type and and possibly cause heartburn. Clearly there are other people who have books that we could review as well, but once there is 75% of the day spent talking and thinking about our books, there is only 25% left for working, and who then has the time to write about other peoples’ books?
However, it is the holidays, which means there is more time in hand, so:
Luke Pearson’s Hilda and the Midnight Giant!
The first thing to say here is: if you haven’t heard of this Luke Pearson character, that’s because he’s very young and from the land of England. But you should definitely check out his work — he’s super-talented. And clearly we’re going to see more from him — even more about Hilda, which is very exciting!
Hilda and the Midnight Giant is a story about a girl who is named Hilda. She has blue hair, which is always an exciting thing! The world she lives in reminds me a lot of Tove Jansson’s Moomin world, because there are a lot of things that are perfectly normal to our world, and then a few things which make you say, ‘this world is not like our world at all!’ Though these two perspectives would seem to be at odd with each other, Pearson makes it work in this story, and it’s delightful. It’s a fantasy — but it’s not a fantasy on the scale of Game of Thrones, where there’s a whole alternate universe, or fantasy along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where it’s our world but there’s hidden fantasy that we didn’t know about. It’s Earth-normal plus integrated fantasy — and there are giants!
The story unrolls when Hilda and her mom (who live by themselves in a valley near but not very close to a town) start receiving tiny threatening letters telling them that they have to move. It turns out that they’ve been living in the middle of a town of (until you sign the right paperwork) invisible and insubstantial elves who have gotten tired of Hilda and her mom always walking through their living rooms, even if they are insubstantial. Hilda (not unreasonably) protests being kicked out of her house and goes off on a series of interviews with increasingly more important political elf-figures to try to sort things out. Mostly they are futile — ‘it’s just politics,’ is the excuse given, because they’re tiny invisible elves! Of course they have a rampantly corrupt political system.
Meanwhile, Hilda keeps seeing a giant lingering around the house — but whenever anyone else goes to look at it, the giant is gone. (In this world, giants, unlike invisible elves, are very common. Except they mostly live in forests and not near Hilda, which has everyone confused.)
The animals in Pearson’s world are one of the most fun parts of the world-building here. Hilda has a . . . dog? Who is also part-fox (the tail) and part deer (the tiny antlers, except they’re blue); it’s super-adorable and actually plays a part in the story, unlike most animals in comics, who just hang around being attractive eye-candy. There are also giant . . . things called Woffs that are like round bear heads with cat tails except they spend all their time in flight. (They are also plot-related! It’s great.) And there is also a tiny elf-cat who has kittens in Hilda’s hair! That is the best thing because seriously, who would not super-miniature kittens in their hair? Especially when they’re purebred velourian silkhair kittens?
I love Hilda’s attitude — she’s like an alternate rendition of Pippi Longstockings, except without the lifting horses above her head and not liking barley! When the adults kind of wander around vacillating about things and having a complete lack of action, she’s out there trying to change things (which, spoiler alert, she ends up doing mostly successfully). Who doesn’t want that in a kid character?
In conclusion: if you haven’t picked up a copy of this yet, you should!