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The Grimmelings by Rachael King


Ella knows that words are powerful. So she should have known better than to utter a wish and a curse on the same day, even in jest. When the boy she cursed goes missing, Ella discovers that her family is living in the shadow of a vengeful kelpie, a black horse-like creature. With the help of her beloved pony, can Ella break the curse to save not just her own family, but her whole community?

Author Rachael King blends Scottish folklore with New Zealand's South Island high country in this immersive and vibrant read. I am not a horse person at all, so I am always a little wary of books that feature the animals so heavily. I'm glad I didn't let my perceptions stand in the way of picking up this spellbinding fantasy adventure. 

King weaves together both Māori and Scottish folklore into a story that is vibrant, rich and eerie. Her characters, both human and animal, are full and alive. The world they inhabit is brought to life too, with moody landscapes and weather creating a rich world that will sweep readers up.

The Grimmelings explores family, grief, language, neurodiversity and environmental themes subtly. King treats her readers with respect, not preaching or seeming holier-than-thou. She knows she holds the power of the word in her hands, and so she allows her characters' behaviours to tell the story, respecting her readers' intelligence. 

This book has all the hallmarks of becoming a classic that will be loved and adored by children and adults alike; it is gripping, expertly crafted, it transcends time, is intensely evocative, fresh and original. 

King quotes from the Blacklisted podcast in her acknowledgments for the book "language is magic". The Grimmelings embodies this sentiment, not just in the plot and themes, but in King's magical way with words. 


Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Allen & Unwin


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