Spring by William Horwood
Review by Floresiensis
The adventure of a lifetime is just beginning…
It has lain lost and forgotten for fifteen hundred years in the ancient heartland of England – a scrap of glass and metal melded by fierce fire. It is the lost core of a flawless Sphere made by the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon CraeftLords in memory of the one he loved. Her name was Spring and contained in the very heart of this work is a spark from the Fires of Creation.
But while humans have lost their belief in such things, the Hydden – little people existing on the borders of our world – have not. Breaking the silence of centuries they send one of their own, a young boy, Jack, to live among humans in the hope that he may one day find what has been lost for so long. His journey leads him to Katherine, a girl he rescues from a tragic accident – it’s a meeting that will change everything. It is only through their voyage into the dangerous Hyddenworld that they will realize their destiny, find love and complete the great quest that will save both their worlds from destruction.
Their journey begins with Spring…
I have been eagerly awaiting this book ever since I read that William Horwood was busy at work on another fantasy series, his first in sixteen years. The day it arrived through the post was an exciting one, but always with anticipation comes fear… what if my expectations were too high, or worse still, what if the book was not very good?
I have enjoyed William Horwood’s work for many years. As a child I read The Willows in Winter, as a teenager I read Callanish and Duncton Wood and then, as an adult, I made my way further into the Duncton Chronicles whilst also reading the author’s moving, fictionalised biography The Boy With No Shoes. These are all books that I remember with great fondness.
So, it was with fingers, arms and legs crossed that I began reading Hyddenworld: Spring.
I had been expecting a narrative similar to the Duncton novels, eloquent, descriptive and detailed within sizeable chapters. I was wrong; the style was sharp and the chapters snappy, often only two or three pages in length. Early on there were multiple changes in perspective, there was much character and pre-history to digest and, before I knew it, a hundred pages had gone by and it was time to take stock. You will find with any new series that it can often take a little time to become completely immersed and comfortable within the world that has been created. But in time, if it is a good book, the characters will grow on you and the world will come to life.
Everything that I hoped for began to happen. I began to really warm to the characters and to care about what happened to them. The converging storylines came together neatly, the paragraphs lengthened and as Jack and Katherine descended into the mysterious Hyddenworld the book got better and better until, at its end, I was left open-mouthed at just how good it had become. The last fifty pages of this book gave me my happiest reading experience in recent years.
I’m not going to go into great detail about the story and the characters, as this is something that I hope you will find out for yourself when you read it. What I will say is that characterisation is still one of Horwood’s many strong points (and the way that he can still manage to make us see the beauty in the natural world around us). It is not that he creates one or two truly memorable characters; it is that all who appear are memorable and are treated with the same care and respect. Lord Festoon and Parlance deserve special mention though as their story and their relationship is in turn poignant, surreal, and highly amusing (and helps to lighten the mood as death, pain and ecological disaster are all major themes – although having said that the book’s ending blows away all feelings of despair as new life, new love and new starts perfectly epitomise what Spring represents to many).
As the final page turns the reader will be left feeling uplifted, knowing that everything has been left perfectly poised for the second book in the series, Summer, to pick up where Spring finished.
William Horwood is a wonderful writer who, in Hyddenworld: Spring, has written a wonderful book, although I think the best may still be to come later in the series. It was a delight to read and I will not be alone in welcoming him back to the genre that has been poorer for his absence. Welcome back Mr. Horwood, you have been gone too long.
About the author
William Horwood is the author of the bestselling classic Duncton Wood and Wolves of Time series. William has returned to his hallmark fantasy in this epic series following the flow of the seasons. Spring is the first of four books. William lives and works in Oxford. He is currently working on the second book in the Hyddenworld series: Summer.
Antony from Watford
I have to say so far that I find the book to be absolutely spellbinding, William's ability to describe and paint pictures, more so with this book than even Duncton Wood for me, in my mind has really made it difficult for me to put the book down, so far it is beautiful, haunting and wonderfully well written, the characters are jumping off the page at me and even though I was a bit bewildered by the nature of the quest at the beginning I find myself not caring as I know it will become clearer as I get further into it. A magnificent work by a truly incredible fantasy writer
Jody from Auckland, New Zealand
I loved Hyddenworld, and am looking forward to reading Awakening ... so good to have William Horwood writing again!
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