Good morning my bookish brethren and shelfish sisterhood, it’s Mad Martha with you today with a Haiku Review of another not-to-be-missed title. Today’s fresh off the press offering is The Purple Girl by Audrey Kane. I received a copy for review from the publisher via Netgalley – we thank thee!
The Purple Girl is a middle grade fantasy adventure that centres around Violet, a girl who was born …well…violet. Violet’s skin is purple and everything she touches takes on a purplish hue for a few moments after she moves on. Her parents keep her away from most ordinary folk for her own protection, but occasionally venture out amidst taunting and frightened looks to participate in usual village business. On meeting a gypsy girl who promises to remove Violet’s purple for the small price of her voicebox, Violet is presented with a choice – should she blend in with those around her and live the life she imagines or is her voice too precious to lose? Once Violet makes her decision, it seems that new opportunities pop up from everywhere to challenge her resolve and push her to be independent. After all, she’s growing up – surely it’s time for her parents to let her go?
Little lilac lass
ventures over garden wall
seeks key to freedom
This book was completely out-of-the-box for me. I read the blurb, expected a bit of a fairy-tale-ish, atmospheric sort of choreographed adventure and was blown away by the sensitivity with which Kane has created the characters and the story that unfolds for them in these pages. This was an unexpected joy to read.
Violet, the protagonist, is neither a shy, retiring petal nor a swashbuckling, all action GI Jane – she’s simply an ordinary person with a less than ordinary …skin condition, I suppose you could say. This was refreshing, I must say, as many books these days, especially those aimed at middle grade or tween girls, seem to rely on one or the other of those stereotypes (or one that turns into the other). To have a rounded female with believable flaws really added to the book as a whole, and moved it away from that run-of-the-mill, all-been-done-before vibe that can happen so easily with books for this age group.
The story was at once complicated but simple. There were a number of plot twists that pushed the action forward, but they occured gently and almost naturally based on Violet’s actions. There are a lot of different elements to the plot – Violet’s encounter with the gypsy girl, her discovery of a mysterious jewelled book belonging to her father, the relationship between Violet and her first real friend, Frankie, and Violet’s ability to sing. All of these elements contribute to the story, but none takes precedence over another. It was a strange experience reading, because every time one of these plot twists arose, I immediately thought, “Oh, I know where this is going!” but not once was I right! It’s a wonderful thing to be surprised more than once in a story that you think you probably already know, or could figure out from the blurb or the picture on the cover.
Oh, did I mention it’s illustrated? Yep, it was a (lovely) surprise to me, but there are a few illustrated pages throughout and they have the same dream-like quality as the front cover.
This would be a fantastic read-aloud for tweens, particularly girls, as the action in the book is tempered with a certain gentleness in the telling. It’s also a reasonably fast read, so could be completed over a few sessions easily.
The Purple Girl was released on the 8th of January, so it’s available to purchase right now – good news, hey! – and you can buy it for yourself at Amazon, by clicking here.
But even better than that – the author, Audrey Kane, who will be visiting the Shelf on Monday for a spotlight post, has also been generous enough to put up a SIGNED paperback copy of The Purple Girl for one lucky reader to win…and better than that, it’s an INTERNATIONAL competition! Hooooooorayyyy! So be sure to pop back on Monday for your chance to win.
Adieu until we meet again, my many-hued friends,