“I can’t believe they let us through,” said Olga. “I thought for sure we’d get caught.’
“The last leg of our journey,” said Mool. “Ha ha ha.”
“Pontificate and flaneur?” said Olga in a great outward breath. “Erudite words.”
Erudite? thought Mool with a snort. What does that mean? I’m going through a great deal of trouble. She could at least be clear.
“You should talk,” said Mool. “I think you’re making up half of what you say.”
“I assure you,” said Olga in a solemn voice. “My vocabulary is apropos.”
Underneath her fake beard, Mool bared her teeth. “We would make terrible friends.”
“I concur,” said Olga.
–Gray Hawk of Terrapin by Moss Whelan
Gray Hawk of Terrapin by Moss Whelan
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. In no way did this affect my review or my rating of the novel.
Gray Hawk of Terrapin is a children’s fantasy novel about Mool, a thirteen-year-old girl who unexpectedly moves with her mother from Vancouver to Terrapin, the magical world of her parents, when Mool’s uncle becomes sick and needs help from Mool’s mother. Mool has always been an outsider, but she finds that the vivid imagination that was a curse in Vancouver is a gift in Terrapin, where she can see the best and worst of this new world in ways that those around her cannot. When Mool’s childhood imaginary friend named Inberl goes missing, Mool teams up with her quirky cousin Olga to save the day.
My absolute favorite aspect of Gray Hawk of Terrapin is the friendship that develops between Mool and Olga. When they first meet, they are turned off by their differences, and quarrel incessantly. However, Mool and Olga both long for the freedom to explore Terrapin, and that shared desire forces them to work together. Separately, Mool lives deeply within her head and her wild imagination, whereas Olga is rooted within the logic of the world. Together, however, their skills and flaws complement each other, and they are able to survive outside the safety of their home only by working together to solve riddles, coerce information out of adults, and disguise themselves when needed. They go from enemies to “unfriends” to friends, and I just loved following along as they learned to respect each other as they are.
I have to admit to struggling just a little with the writing style. Much of the action, especially early in the novel, is dependent on Mool’s imagination, and I sometimes had trouble following what was happening. Sometimes Mool imagined that something happened, and sometimes it really did, and while I appreciated Mool’s own occasional struggle to tell the difference between imagination and reality, it was not at first clear to me that the mix-up was intentional (nor am I entirely confident, even now, that it was meant to be confusing in that way). This ultimately did not turn me away from the book, as there was so much still to like, but I think a little clarity, especially early in the novel, would have done a lot to keep me invested in the plot.
That being said, some of the chaos of the storytelling was based on the world development, and those aspects were incredible. Gray Hawk of Terrapin had some strong mythology tied to the world of Terrapin, its creation, the magic that it contains, and what will ultimately solve its problems. That world-building was so well done that while I was satisfied with the ending, I would love to read more set in this world, especially from Mool or Olga’s perspectives.
In all, I will give Gray Hawk of Terrapin a 7 out of 10. This is an incredible fantasy for children with well-developed, relatable characters set in a fascinating world. Some of the leaps in action are sometimes distracting, but fantasy lovers will still find this a great, light-hearted read.