This is the story of 11 year old Tessa, seeking out the fabled barbegazi while mourning the death of her beloved grandfather, and Gawain, a barbegazi and young at a mere 154 years old, searching for his twin sister Maeg who went missing after an avalanche. Fortunately Tessa and Gawion meet up and with the help of Tessa’s cousin, Felix, join forces to search for the missing barbegazi, who, I should mention, has been abducted.
This is a charming delightful story with enough tension and a satisfying conclusion. I have to confess I never heard of barbegazi before I read this book. In case you are in the same situation, they are a type of snow-elf who love to ride avalanches and keen to help out humans in trouble. If you need more information than that, I will have to refer you to Professor Bahne’s book, Habits & Habitats: A Historic Account of Alpine Elves quoted throughout the book.
Tessa is a lovely character, living with her grief-stricken mother and grandmother in a ski-resort in the Austrian Alps. She is clever, resourceful, and brave. Cousin Felix, intent though he is on winning his ski races, proves himself when it comes to the point, and Gawion is endearing.
The book is very well written and the story flows well. I have to say I enjoyed the skiing aspect too, not enough to venture out on the slopes perhaps, but it was fun reading about it (that’s as good, right?). The impact of the loss of a loved one on all members of the family (and its repercussions on others) is touched upon, and adds depth to the relatively simple story. All in all, a delightful story of friendship and family, one I think younger readers will enjoy.
TOTP and I award it an enthusiastic 9 out of 10 Diamonds.
We also recently reviewed The Hungry Ghost by H.S. Norup – see my review here.