First of Flea’s Five Christmases
Despite the action at the start, where Flea is being bullied at school until he finds himself with strange powers when it snows, this story takes a while to get going. That is to say, once Flea gets whisked off to the North Pole the action really starts! Exactly why Flea is there, why he is so talented and why he is lumped with two seeming failures who have never graduated from Elf School forms the mystery at the heart of the book, and one that is only slightly revealed by the end. But then as the series implies, he has five Christmases to work out the answer!
The story is well written, and full of wonderfully imaginative problems, punishments, and nasty situations as well as fun things and inventive means of transport. I admire an author who comes up with filling someone’s room with snowballs as a bully’s way of getting at them. I did find it irritating that any onomatopaeic words were italicised, sometimes in the same sentence as words where italics were used for stress. I don’t think the wind howling or the snowball whooshing adds anything, and to me it detracted from the readability.
But I did enjoy the story, and felt the characters were well established. The wider plot is nicely introduced, and left at a very nice point so that I want to find out what happens next while being satisfied by the end of this story. A cleverly plotted book with plenty of twists and seasonal references that I’m sure all the family will enjoy.
P.S. Having started by saying it takes a while to get going, I will now backtrack and say it probably doesn’t take any more time than it took Hagrid to turn up and say, “You’re a wizard, Harry.” Maybe it was more predictable from the descriptions of Flea’s problems? Maybe it was because there was a Prologue? I don’t know. I do know that I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.