Friday, 31 October 2014

Krabat by Otfried Preussler

Review by The Mole

Krabat is a young beggar boy who, when he is 14, hears a voice inside his head calling him to a mill in the middle of a fen. He leaves his friends and sets off to find the mill. When asking directions he is warned about it's mysteries but heedless of the warnings he goes to the mill and is apprenticed to the miller. But this is no ordinary mill or miller for this mill is a "Black School" and the miller is its teacher of the black art of necromancy. Krabat lives and eats with the 11 journeyman living there.

And then, at new year, Tonda - one of the journeymen who has become Krabat's friend and advisor - dies mysteriously and the remaining journeymen advise and instruct Krabat to forget about Tonda, something he cannot do. The very next day, released from his apprenticeship, Krabat and the journeyman find a new apprentice on Tonda's bed.

Exactly one year later the cycle starts again and this time it's Michal that is killed. Once again the advice is to forget Michal but instead Krabat swears to avenge their deaths. As the year goes round Krabat starts to wonder if he is next and what, if anything, he can do about it.

Originally written in 1972 this is a book that will, I'm sure, remain a timeless classic. Its start introduces us to a young innocent beggar who carol sings to earn money - not beg or steal or even scavenge and the reader immediately warms to this young lad. The events of the story unfold continuously and the reader really is compelled to just keep on reading - perhaps Preussler has studied some black art himself to achieve this?

The book is dark and tense throughout but has no really terrifying parts at all. Although Krabat ages at a faster than normal rate (something caused by the mill) I was never in any doubt that this was a children's book - even when the end came or deaths occurred I was still in do doubt.

A book for Halloween? Definitely - although not JUST for Halloween but for any time, especially those long, dark, cold winter evenings... Don't let it spoil your dreams though. Did I say dreams?...

Publisher - The Friday Project
Genre - Children's horror, 12+

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