When James' mum takes an unfortunate tumble and lands in hospital he goes to stay with his rarely seen grandparents. At first, everything is normal, but, when they sneak off at night he can't help but wonder what they're hiding from him. A big family secret starts to reveal itself and James can't believe the magic that's been right in front of him.
Thank you to Lizzie for reaching out and sending me a copy of her book in exchange for a review! I've really grown to love middle-grade novels this year as they're full of hope and wonder, McLaren's writing is no exception!
Immediately I loved James, he was characterised beautifully to perfectly depict a 12-year-old boy discovering a world beyond what he thought possible. McLaren creates an 'eager-to-discover' atmosphere around James and manages to entice the reader into this mindset as well, I was just as excited as James to discover all the weird and wonderful aspects of the Creaturespeak. The world McLaren creates definitely has something for all ages but the idea of being able to speak with animals is always going to resonate more with younger audiences so this was a brilliant idea for a middle-grade novel.
Debut novels tend to be a little clunky with writing styles whilst the author gets to grips with what kind of writer they want to be, this had moments where the pace could have quickened up or a smoother transition between chapters could have been utilised but that isn't to say this wasn't a great read. My usual reading list is full of well-known authors and fine-tuned writing so it was refreshing to see some new approaches to writing. McLaren in this instance had a captivating take on action, which for a middle-grade novel is tricky. We expect timid and low-key progression but McLaren was not afraid to really intrigue the reader by grappling with characters and their dangerous adventures.
Anthropomorphism is nothing new for pop culture but with 'Their Earth' I loved that it wasn't just a story about talking animals, it was about the world created so that humans and animals could live harmoniously, and the protection of that world. Often I find myself lost with fantasy or sci-fi because the concepts are so outlandish it's hard to grasp the full picture, but McLaren took a simple idea and made it magical.
This was definitely a joy to read and I would recommend it to young and old readers alike!