Everyone has those books that they read as a child/teen and still love years later. I am still extremely fond of the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate, even though I have far surpassed the recommended reading age. There are some stories that, in my opinion, are ageless and stay with you over the years.
I want to share with you a few of these books that make that list of mine but also share something else that makes them special: like me, they are from New Zealand.
I hope all of you have seen the film, the one that earned Keisha Castle-Hughes her Oscar nomination, and catapulted her to fame. But have you read the book?
When Kahu, a girl child, is born to the eldest grandson of the chief of the Maori in Whangara, New Zealand. Koro Apirana is disgusted; he needs a male child to continue the line of descent in the tribe. The years that follow further harden his heart toward his great-granddaughter in spite of the bottomless love and respect she showers upon him. The child’s great-grandmother, the irreverent Nanny Flowers, proves to be the strength of this family; she nurtures the girl whom she knows holds the key to the future.
A tale of strength, love, prejudice and a world of darkness, Winter of Fire is my favourite book by Sherryl Jordan, although Secret Sacrament does come a close second.
Living in treeless mountains under cold perpetual clouds, human society has split into two classes: the autocratic Chosen and the despised Quelled, who mine the coal that’s the only available source of heat. To general consternation, the ruling Firelord has picked Elsha, an angry Quelled teenager, as his new and only Handmaid; she vows to better the lot of her people, though it means battling centuries of prejudice.
When I heard that they were going to make a proper movie of Under The Mountain - starring Sam Neill as Mr Jones and Oliver Driver as Mr Wilberforce - I was ecstatic. I read this book in primary school and have never forgotten it. It did, however, make me glad to not be living in Auckland - and now provides inspiration for a book of mine set in Wellington about its earthquakes.
While vacationing with relatives in Auckland, twins Theo and Rachel discover that they are endowed with special powers to oppose mysterious giant creatures that are determined to destroy the world.
The O Trilogy - Maurice Gee
The Halfmen of O, The Priests of Ferris and Motherstone make up the O Trilogy that earns Maurice Gee another place on this list. Unlike Under The Mountain it is much more fantasy than science fiction, focussing on the mystical world of O where time flows differently, humankind are now either solely Good or Evil (Halfmen) and where many other sentient creatures live, from the forests to the skies to the seas to underneath the very ground itself.
Susan had always been a bit odd and never really got on with her cousin Nick, but the mark on her wrists draws them together in a frightening adventure. They are summoned to the land of O in a desperate attempt to save the planet from cruel Otis Claw and the evil Halfmen.
The winner of this list is a tale of family, growing up and first love, as well as all the secrets families keep. Absolutely beautiful, and I have to admit that I love this book so much there’s a nod to it in the naming of my own book’s Daniel Deronda. Learn the secret behind the origin of Felix’s name and you should be able to figure out Daniel’s.
To most of the Hamilton family, the three young men who drop in on their holiday seem to be ordinary, although eccentric, visitors. To 17-year-old Ariadne (always called Harry), they are much more than that, perhaps ghosts, or even characters come alive from a story she is writing. Mahy has caught the essence of the adolescent’s painful separateness; cut off from her childhood, Harry stands alone in her family. Whatever they are, the Tricksters act as a catalyst, drawing Harry out of childhood and causing her to raise the family’s tensions and reveal their secrets.
Originally published at Working Title. Please leave any comments there.