Good morning guys!
How are you all doing?
It’s my stop on the The Wind Child blog tour today and I’m so excited to introduce you all to Gabriela Houston! She’s here today to take over my blog – I hope you enjoy her post!
The Wind Child
No human has ever returned from Navia, the Slavic afterlife. But twelve-year-old Mara is not entirely human. She is the granddaughter of Stribog, the god of winter winds and she’s determined to bring her beloved father back from the dead. Though powerless, Mara and her best friend Torniv, the bear-shifter, set out on an epic journey to defy the gods and rescue her father. On their epic journey they will bargain with forest lords, free goddesses from enchantments, sail the stormy seas in a ship made of gold and dodge the cooking pot of the villainous Baba Latingorka. Little do the intrepid duo know of the terrible forces they have set in motion, for the world is full of darkness and Mara will have to rely on her wits to survive.
Accepting the limitations of adulthood in children’s books.
by Gabriela Houston
Children’s adventure books often hinge upon the absence of the child protagonists’ guardians to allow for the story to unfold.
Sometimes the parents of the underage heroes are dead, and their guardians neglectful (hello, evil stepmom). Very often their failings lie within their adult lack of imagination, like in Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Had Coraline’s mother believed her daughter’s story about the mysterious “second mother”, she might have locked up the little portal door and melted the only key, ending any possibility of a dangerous adventure.
The Grace children’s mother in Holly Black’s The Spiderwick Chronicles, is so lost in the “real” problems of adulthood, she assumes all the increasingly bizarre incidents in her home are caused by her son’s bad behaviour, rather than the supernatural explanation her children offer.
And so, when the adults fail to protect and believe, the child must take over and face the danger. This transition from the protected to the protector, and the linked realisation of the limitations of adulthood are a fascinating theme in children’s fiction.
In my Slavic-folklore-inspired novel, The Wind Child, Mara lives between two worlds, the human one of her father’s, and the one inhabited by gods and spirits, like her grandfather Stribog, the God of Winter Winds. Her mother’s family offers none of the warmth and affection a growing child needs, but in the end Mara also ends up realising the limits of her father’s family. Her human relations, the adults at least, have a great deal of love to offer, but theirs is a limiting kind of affection, that seeks to mould Mara into one of their own, rather than recognising her dual nature, and the possibilities and the dangers within it.
When Mara’s father dies, the gods are indifferent, and his human family’s only answer is to resign themselves to the grief, and, in time, they hope acceptance. The human soul travels to Navia, and no human ever came back from there. But Mara is not entirely human, and in embracing her dual nature, she recognises the limits of both the worlds she knows, and hopes that she can herself become more than the sum of her parts. What caused her isolation becomes a source of hope. In transcending her heritage, she hopes she can achieve the impossible.
She is joined in her journey by her best friend Torniv, a boy every bit as lonely as Mara. Neither of them knew what it felt like to belong, until they learned to trust each other. Where they were failed by the adults, Torniv and Mara see and understand each other.
Friendship, in the “found families” sense, is a hugely important theme, perhaps nowhere more so than in children’s fiction. It comes with a huge emotional upheaval: when we first learn to see ourselves through the eyes of others, and to experience the world and form deep, lasting attachments outside of our families. And to children like Mara and Torniv, feeling like they’re never enough, it’s a lifeline.
A massive thanks to Gabriela for this really interesting blog post!
Go check out the rest of the blog tour (details below) and remember to get your hands on a copy of The Wind Child now!!