Daily Archives: November 3, 2009

Medina Hill + a visit from Trilby Kent

medinaTrilby Kent

Today’s it’s my treat to welcome Trilby Kent, debut author of the middle grade historical novel, Medina Hill. Trilby is touring around the kidlitosphere this week, beginning with Toronto-based blogs (her native city), and ending in UK-based blogs (her current home base). Other tour stops today include:

Cindy’s Love of Books
Librarian By Day
Melanie’s Musings
Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf

Here’s the teaser for Medina Hill, provided by Tundra:

In the grimy London of 1935, eleven-year-old Dominic Walker has lost his voice. His mother is sick and his father’s unemployed. Rescue comes in the form of his Uncle Roo, who arrives to take him and his young sister, Marlo, to Cornwall. There, in a boarding house populated by eccentric residents, Marlo, who keeps a death grip on her copy of The New Art of Cooking, and Dominic, armed with Incredible Adventures for Boys: Colonel Lawrence and the Revolt in the Desert, find a way of life unlike any they have known. Dominic’s passion for Lawrence of Arabia is tested when he finds himself embroiled in a village uprising against a band of travelers who face expulsion. In defending the vulnerable, Dominic learns what it truly means to have a voice.

After reading Medina Hill, I’ll certainly be on the look out for whatever Trilby writes next. The main reason? Originality. An author who creates a story that’s just a little bit unusual (in concept or characters), as this one is, automatically warrants keeping an eye on, in my opinion. I enjoyed the way Trilby brought diverse elements together in this book. I thought it was an interesting approach for Dominic to be inspired by the past so that he might take hold of his present life and come into his own towards the end of the book. Naturally, I loved all of the passages focusing on his sister Marlo’s passion for cooking (a girl after my own heart, that Marlo). Read this bit:

My sister wasn’t complaining, mind. But The New Art of Cooking had opened another world for her. I guess it was an escape. There was a section called “Feasts from the Arabian Nights,” and another one called “Medieval Meats, Meads, and Mushrooms.” Marlo took to carrying it around with her the way a baby clings to her blanket. “You don’t even know how to boil water,” I’d sneered at her, irritated by the fact that she seemed so content, safe in a world of Sunday roasts and jelly trifles. “What’s the point of reading a book for housewives?” Marlo had gazed up at me with those dumb, gray eyes and replied, “You wouldn’t understand.”

Medina Hill explores some of my favourite themes: the blessing in discovering the things that matter to you most, learning to accept yourself and so finding the courage to change and grow, and the power one discovers when facing the world with a curious spirit and an open mind. Those are some big ideas for a slim book.

I thought this was a quirky read, with characters I wanted to know more about. I suppose that’s the only aspect of the book that wasn’t fully satisfying. There were so many unusual characters, indeed the plot necessitated a cast of oddballs, but I wanted more scenes through which readers could connect to them and come to understand them more deeply. It seemed like many of the secondary characters came and went rather quickly, with only a couple of scenes each. Perhaps it’s just that the book could have stood to be quite a bit longer. I think the overall impact would have been stronger with more of the story and characters fleshed out a bit more fully. In some respects, I don’t think Medina Hill is written for a broad readership, because not all kids will appreciate or perhaps even understand Dominic’s passion for such a specific period of history, though many may identify with his fears and self-doubt. This said, I was certainly attracted to the range of subjects presented here, from the history of Lawrence of Arabia to Romany life to cooking and baking and even clairvoyance. The eclectic subject matter intrigued me and could easily have supported a lengthier narrative.

Now I am happy to present Trilby Kent herself – and her two main characters as well, Dominic and Marlo, for a chat about what inspires them most about their particular passions. Welcome Trilby & Co! Continue reading