Lanny by Max Porter

‘Not far from London, there is a village…’

A small village: one pub, one church, an array of different houses. People, living their lives, talking, and doing. It is a village with a past, with accrued lives and deaths, events, and experiences. And Dead Papa Toothwort. Into this village comes Lanny and his parents. Lanny’s dad commutes to London, Lanny’s mum is a writer, and Lanny is a child with keen senses of observation and wonder. Lanny takes lessons with Mad Pete the artist, and other villagers will feature in the story as well.

First, we meet Dead Papa Toothwort as he ‘wakes from his standing nap an acre wide and scrapes off dream dregs of bitumen glistening thick with liquid globs of litter.’

‘Tetchy Papa Toothwort should never sleep in the afternoon; he doesn’t know who he is.’

And Dead Papa Toothwort listens …

This is a wonderfully imaginative story. Mr Porter creates a world where reality and magic coexist, where the thoughts of characters convey their personalities to readers, where danger and wonder both lurk. And then Lanny goes missing … villagers are suspicious and the village changes …

This is not a conventional story. It unfolds over three parts, and further description of it could reduce the magic. I think that every reader will find a different story, and have a unique reaction to that story.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith