Title: The Portland Giant
Author: Carol Hunt
Sale Price: £3.99
Publication date: December 2012
Format: 198 x 130 mm
Number of pages: 144
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|In the final book of the series, Isabel discovers the greatest secret of the ancient Isle of Portland. |
‘You’re a witchy family. Your mum’s got red hair and your sister’s a pumpkin!’ remarks Noah, Isabel’s friend.
But the local elves think Isabel isn’t a proper witch, even when she encounters a ghostly highwayman and cavalier, a headless horseman, magical unicorn and the keeper of the old Vindelis Lighthouse, a boy lost in time.
Her interfering little sister Suzie is keen to find the Island Giant, but Isabel is worried. What will he think of today’s Portland and of Isabel herself, the reluctant island witch?
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK
Mrs Veronica Greychurch arrived at Groves Farm in her red raincoat clutching a large rucksack. She lugged it through the kitchen and shook the rain out of her umbrella. A tall imposing woman with white hair swept severely from her face, bulging eyes and a bossy manner, Mrs Greychurch had been a great friend of Mrs Groves for many years, despite past disagreements over a dragon. She flicked through her Ghost Hunter manual, pausing to look at a picture of a ghost trailing down a staircase.
‘Greychurches don’t like ghosts creeping round farmhouses in the autumn, making draughts and funny smells.’
She dropped the book on the kitchen table and peered into the hallway. No sign of any phantoms. Just that silly girl Isabel Maydew gazing into the hall mirror. ‘What are you doing?’ she demanded.
Isabel jumped. ‘Nothing. I came to collect these for Mrs Groves.’ She picked up a bag of biscuits that she had dropped on the floor.
‘I don’t approve of people hanging about, staring into a looking glass like Alice in Wonderland,’ said Mrs Greychurch, looming over her. ‘Hurry home. Take one of Mrs Groves’ umbrellas. The weather’s dreadful.’ She glared into the mirror as Isabel left, slamming the kitchen door behind her. She listened for Isabel’s footsteps on the cobbled path to the stables. That awful girl could have ruined her investigations.
Once she was sure Isabel was out of the way, she started to unpack her rucksack. Autumn was a quiet time of year. It was months since she had tried to harpoon a rogue mermaid and blow up a pirate ship with her cannon. The evenings were long and dark, with many dull hours before bedtime. So Mrs Greychurch had decided to tackle the farmhouse ghosts, once and for all; the cavalier with the feather in his hat, the ladies in satin ballgowns, and various other shadowy figures that lurked around the farm.
‘Of course, ghosts have always lingered here. Mrs Groves doesn’t take a firm line with waifs and strays. She encourages them. Look at her ghastly nephew, Wolven. All eyes and teeth. Thank goodness he’s away until Halloween.’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carol’s stories draw on local folklore, myth and legend, such as the Veasta (the Chesil Beach sea monster) and the Roy Dog, a local phantom black dog. The Portland Giant has furthered her research into legends attached to the landscape. Carol has three children and lives in Wyke Regis. Since the publication of The Portland Chronicles, she has given talks in schools and libraries across Dorset.
You can keep up to date with Carol by following her blog.
For the latest news, events and photographs look on Facebook at The Portland Sea Dragon.
You can also follow her on Twitter at: islandseadragon.
WHAT REVIEWERS HAVE SAID
Island of Adventure
An island shrouded in myths and mists deserves its own stories. Portland has been the subject of legends since the dawn of time and it is a tradition carried on by author Carol Hunt, who lives on the island and has just published her fourth and final book in The Portland Chronicles series. The book’s cracking pace combines with mild scares and a lot of gentle humour and the end result is a very readable story that makes Portland seem like the epicentre of a fantastical world. The seeds of an idea for the book were sown by the island’s sense of mystery and timelessness.
‘Some days, when the island is covered in mist, it can seem like a place out of time,’ said Carol. ‘On the east of the island there’s what looks like a face hewn into the cliff, facing east. I don’t know if it’s natural or manmade but it looks like a giant and I have always been fascinated by it. I suppose I was inspired by it to a certain extent, but there are also tales of stone-slinging people who lived up at the Verne and defended the island. They were very tall – giants have always been associated with Portland.’
Carol’s books have fast and fun plots and like the best literature are not all sweetness and light. ‘I think the best children’s book are dark – look at Harry Potter, he wasn’t perfect in every way and there was an inner conflict that drove him and the stories forward. You can’t identify with a perfect character because no one is like that. Even fairy tales are not all light, they explore darker things and show children how, through difficulties and obstacles, you have to persevere and be determined. With my books I try to get light and shade and a certain rhythm to the stories. I hint at darkness but temper it with humour and fun to get a balance. I think that actually the island of Portland is the most important character and I try to bring it to life and give it a sense of personality through the books.’
Ruth Meech, Dorset Echo
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