Coming home on a grey and windy afternoon, there is no bigger joy than curling up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book. Duncton Wood is a wonderful read that will keep you spellbound from beginning to end.
The story revolving solely around moles, it makes you wonder if it will be interesting to read. But I found that the book is so well written and absorbing, I had no problem at all with the over 700 pages. Let me tell you why.
What Does the Cover Say?
A whole book about moles. How would an author be able to keep that interesting? At first sight, the cover gives us a hint of what’s in store:
“Enter the magical, colourful, poignant world of Bracken and Rebecca, Mandrake the tyrant, Boswell the scribe, Hulver, Comfrey…and all the other moles of Duncton Wood. Set deep in the English countryside, this enchanting story tells us of an ancient community losing its soul – but saved by courage and love.”
There is very little information about the story, only about the characters. And that is exactly the strong point of this book. Because even though the main characters are all moles, they are formed into complex personalities that develop themselves during the course of events and keep you want to read more.
The Main Characters
Main characters, Bracken and Rebecca, are introduced in a casual way, somewhere halfway in the story. Then time rewinds, and we find out how previous events have led up to the moment we witnessed on the first page. Both having a tough, but very different, start in life, Bracken and Rebecca develop into the most amazing and fascinating characters. While their feelings and actions sometimes seem to resemble those of a human being, there is never a doubt that they still are moles. That is all thanks to Horwoods skilful way of inserting mole instincts, habits and typical movements into the almost human way of behaving with regard to communication, love and faith.
Although the main story evolves around the two main characters, a bunch of other charming, intriguing and sweet moles is brought to life. All of those are equally rounded as characters, never leaving any gaps or question marks in their personalities. Never once have I wondered why a mole did what he did. In the light of his or her personality, it all made perfect sense.
Detail, Care and Precision
Something that is visible throughout the entire book, is the enormous precision and care in Horwoods descriptions. There is never too much information, but it is just right. Every carefully crafted detail has a meaning. I think the way Horwood uses the word “somemole” instead of “someone” throughout the entire book speaks for that.
Then, of course, there is the actual story of the book. While it is at the same time fascinating, heart-warming and heart-breaking, I will not tell you about the actual events. Here I agree with the cover-designer of the book in that it is not really about the story, but about the characters. That is what sets this book apart from all the mediocre animal-fantasy books, and makes it an outstanding read.
So, to conclude, Duncton Wood is just the most marvellous read, and I would highly recommend it to all of you!