Author: Frederic S. Durbin
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Literary Fantasy
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A nine year old boy visits his grandmother for the summer to be kept safe during wartime. The small village is home to a grove of statues that keeps a mysterious secret, and the same is true for the grove's most frequent visitor Mr. Girandole. Peace in the town is soon threatened when an enemy aircraft is shot down nearby and it's pilot goes missing.
A Green and Ancient Light is a coming of age story that dabbles in fantasy and fairytale, while also including a little romance to boot. The aesthetic of Durbin's story bears similarities to Paul Kearney's The Wolf in the Attic which was released earlier this year, but it even more closely resembles The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
The story is narrated from the perspective of the nine year old, who remains unnamed, like every character in the story, except for Mr. Girandole. Our unnamed nine-year old narrator discovers a grove filled with statues that have inscriptions and numbers on them and soon realizes that they contain a mystery that may or may not need to be solved. With the help of his grandmother he sets out to do this, and it's this plot that drives everything forward.
Durbin excels at writing about this grove, its statues, and the forest that engulfs them both. The descriptions really make it easy to visualize why grandmother and grandson love their home away from home so much. The mystery element of the story and the downed enemy aircraft add enough variance to keep things moving along. But it should be understood that this is not an action heavy plot.
This is a good experience for readers who enjoy lush descriptions of the natural world, and really like getting to know a setting visually, but don't want to read a door stopper. Emotionally, there are some impactful moments as the characters gradually grow on you. But the way this story is written is what I enjoyed most.