Yes, I know the danger of posting this on April the 1st, but dear reader you can trust me in this. (I don’t do April Fool’s!) In the past couple of posts, and on my Instagram (tea.and.tales shameless plug) I have recently been hinting at exciting developments that had an influence on my punctuality and, well…life in general. I couldn’t really talk about it before because it wasn’t official, but now it is and I am free to say that…
I will be pursuing a PhD in Children’s Literature later this year!
I don’t think I need to explain just why this makes me tremble with excitement, and I’ll take a brief moment here to thank my family and my partner for helping me get there.
The subject I will be studying is the impact of war on the reader of children’s literature, and I am absolutely fascinated and excited about it! That’s why, in the hopes of showing you, my dear reader, I will be discussing Tinder by Sally Gardner here today!
Tinder tells the story of Otto Hundebiss (meaning Dogbite), an adolescent boy soldier who tires of war and denies death. After running away from the battlefield he encounters a strange man who offers him shoes and dice, the latter of which will tell him what way to go. Otto is getting stalked by a strange werewolf kind of creature, and seeks shelter in a tree – where he meets a lady. He immediately falls head over heels in love, and after she runs away he makes it his quest to find her. On his way to find her, Otto encounters a magnificent castle with a magical secret..
I really love the writing style in this novel. It feels like a modern Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, both in the language and in its fairytale-esque tropes. The castle and it’s secrets, the themes of transformation and paranoia and uncertainty all tie in together beautifully and with great effect. Otto is greatly damaged by the unnamed war he was in – as, indeed, the world seems to be also. Otto and everyone he encounters is terrified of a beast stalking them, which nobody else can see. Many have died, and fear rules the land. Nobody trusts anybody anymore, and when Otto enters a new city he is shunned and ostracised. You are left to wonder how much of what is happening is real, and how much of it is in Otto’s head – a feeling which is only emphasised at the end.
The war is always looming on the background, and the lack of affirmed reality mark this story for me as a depiction of a young mind marked by the horrors of war. Otto is forever changed by his experiences on the battlefront, but they are not on the foreground of the story.
This story is dark, intriguing, and reminds me of old fashioned fairytales with a dark twist, a la Through the Woods. Because of that, it goes well with Jing Tea’s Bohea Lapsang. It’s smoky, and reminiscent of a pine forest (a big part of the setting, actually!)
I know this is a short post, but I really want to keep the mystery of the story alive for you readers. This tale has so many layers and reads like a deep character study underneath the surface rescue story. Together with the Bohea Lapsang this read is quite the experience that I highly recommend!