*I was sent this book for review, this in no way affects my opinions…
Little White Hands is a debut, self published, middle grade novel by Mark Cushen. It is the first book in the Garlan Greatheart trilogy. In this first novel we follow Garlan, a kitchen boy who dreams of being a Knight. Garlan lives in a world in which half a millennia ago the Spring, Summer and Autumn went to war with Winter after the latter’s betrayal. Winter lost and therefore generations have gone without knowing a winter. But Winter is rising again and Garlan’s dreams of being a knight may not be so far out of his reach as he once presumed. Following young Garlan we meet an eclectic cast of side characters with whom we traverse and exciting and fantastical landscape filled with magic and whimsy.
For a debut novel or a self pub novel I tend to be quite lenient and then of course it’s a middle grade so I usually feel the need to take into consideration that it is not only my enjoyment but the target audience I must think on. None of these were necessary for this book. It was very well written, immersive and exciting. I had a lot of fun reading it and I would highly recommend. Not only to it’s target audience, who I think will get a lot of enjoyment out of (my children will certainly be benefiting from my receiving this book), but for fantasy readers at large, also fans of fairy tale-esque stories too.
The world this story is set in feels like the love child of Epic, high fantasy and fairy tales and the merger works very well! There were a few instances where I did feel the exposition was a little heavy handed but overall I found it to be a very immersive setting. The magic, from what we have seen so far at least is very reminiscent of folkloric magic, which is nature based and it really added to both the mysticism of the plot and an ambience to the setting.
The pacing of the story is well thought out because it allows the reader to absorb the information given while simultaneously never leaving it long enough for there to be a lull in the actual narrative. The plot itself was very much an epic quest in which one must reach a destination within a certain time frame for a world-saving purpose. Which theoretically could sound unoriginal but it was done in such a way that at no point did this book feel like a replica. I really did appreciate the influences the genre has had on the author where at times it may feel like an homage while still retaining it’s sense of self. The writing did feel very much like classic fantasy and though generally very approachable there were some words of phrases I found a little misplaced. This however is no detriment to the story as adept readers wouldn’t find it an issue and can be used as a way to expand the lexis of more reluctant readers. If you have a reluctant reader in fact who likes high fantasy in their other media, this could be a good place to start, as epic stories like this are less frequent in the middle grade genre.
Overall this is certainly a book I would recommend and a series I plan to continue!
If you are interested in this book then go and check out Mark’s page: https://www.markcushen.com/
You can also find him on various social media: