13 Treasures

13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

After Tanya’s parents’ divorce, she’s become difficult and moody.  Where difficult and moody really mean “tormented by fairies only she can see and whom she can tell no one about”.  Fed up with Tanya’s antics, her mother sends her off to her grandmother’s for the summer.  For Tanya, there’s no escaping fairies and as she settles in, she learns there’s a lot more danger involved than she first thought.  With the help of her friend Fabian, Tanya is determined to get to the bottom of a mystery that is nearly fifty years old, but things are soon well out of her control.

The fairies in this book are very much not the flitting through gardens and simpering under bluebells types.  They are mischievous, dangerous, and often vindictive.  Also they steal children.  When you examine the parts of this book, it seems very dark indeed, quite scary and yet the tone is more that of a mystery with a magical twist.  It stood quite decently on it’s own, perhaps too much so, as it felt so complete I could see readers stopping rather than continuing the series, and yet I have a feeling that the author intends to reveal much more in the rest of the trilogy.

One of the aspects of this book that was particularly dark was Tanya’s personal rejection by those that should love her.  She is very much made to feel difficult and unloved, which goes a long way to explain her untrusting and sometimes defiant personality.  I did appreciate that unlike so many other books of this genre, in the end, the adults had a hand in helping resolve the conflict.  And it certainly demonstrated the damage that keeping secrets can do, whether the secret keeper is an adult or a child.

Recommended for: Grades 3 and up.  I would worry that readers younger than that might find it a bit scary.  It would be on level for many third and fourth graders.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – In the past, two people were dating.  The girl broke it off.

Profanity – None.
Death, Violence and Gore – A girl is pinched.  A woman cuts her foot on broken glass.  A girl sees a dead fairy on the windshield of a car. She has seen a cat hit by a car in the past.  In the past a girl went missing.  She was last seen with a boy at a known suicide spot.  There are gunshots when someone is hunting.  A boy speculates that a tree is sturdy enough to hang people from.  A woman died in an institution at age 23.  There’s talk that a boy might have killed a girl then disposed of her body in the catacombs.  A baby has cut itself with its own fingernails.  A girl has fairy wings branded on her back.  A boy has an unexplained bruise.  A girl worries she’ll find a skeleton.  A boy is attacked by something in the dark, it scratches his head and causes him to bleed.  There is something that can restore life to the dead.  Some fairies torture humans until they go insane.  A girl’s parents die in a car crash.  A fairy dies to save a human life.   A girl and a fairy struggle, then a cat kills the fairy; there is a lot of blood.   Salt causes a hag’s skin to blister and bubble. A dog kills a fairy creatures.  A bad person dies of a heart attack.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – A girl is tormented by fairies and blamed for their bad behavior.  She is unable to tell the truth about her situation and therefore is seen as mentally unstable by adults, untrustworthy and deserving of blame.  Children have disappeared from an orphanage (or Children’s Home as it’s called here).  Children are lost in the woods.  A child is abducted from a maternity ward after being abandoned there.  A woman is committed to a mental asylum for insanity.  A girl overhears people saying they don’t want her around.  Children are switched with fairy children.

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