Review of Windswept

by Margi Preus; illus. by Armando Veve
Intermediate, Middle School    Amulet/Abrams    304 pp.    g
9/22    978-1-4197-5824-9    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-6470-0504-7    $15.54

The time is the future. The “Powers-That-Be” are kidnapping children—using a meteorological weapon of windstorms that sweep them up, to then be sold to mountain trolls for profit. Parents are instructed to protect their offspring (the “youngers”) by keeping them imprisoned inside day and night. A band of rebel youngers—Ant, Boots, and Ren, led by our narrator Tag and accompanied by a dog named Blue Tooth—make their escape and set off on a quest to rescue their abducted siblings. It’s a classic folktale journey, with magical objects, helpful old women, gnomic advice, monsters, the unleashing of unusual talents, outwittings, and a glorious eleventh-hour comeuppance. Along the way we are deftly reminded of the “Other Times” (i.e., now) of climate change, pollution, political corruption, neglect of the young, and racial injustice. The tone here is pitch-perfect, capturing that particular fairy-tale flavor of the absurd mingling with the deeply serious; slapstick alongside real suspense; and language being bent, re-purposed, and enjoyed for its own deliciousness. Veve’s distinctive and quirky textured black-and-white art is interspersed. Preus is so confident in this genre that it is no surprise to learn in an afterword that she grew up listening to her father tell Norwegian fairy stories. She appends an intriguing list of tales that inspired this fresh, rich, and buoyant fantasy.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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