Brave and True by Jan Goldie
Reviewed by Lee Murray
When his long-lost Uncle Steadfast drops in to reveal that Brave is heir-apparent to another world, the twelve-year-old doesn’t believe a word of it. He’s having trouble enough extricating himself from Riley and his band of school bullies. Meanwhile, in Arvalonia, True Harboursfort is hoping to carve a better future than the one her prominent royalist family plans for her. Suddenly, the plucky pair are thrown into a vortex of confusion. They’re going to have to grow up quickly and work together if they’re to have any hope of saving Arvalonia from the devices of the false queen, Mallevia…
Together, Brave and True face searing inner heat of the desert, the sticky humidity of the rainforest, and the slow inexorable current of the Sugarcane River as they embark on a journey to truth about their pasts. Brave and True is Goldie’s debut novel, the first in a trilogy and a richly-crafted fantasy for young readers on the look out for an alternative to Hogwarts and Middlearth. It appears Goldie may have some of the mage in her herself, conjuring up a magical world as fascinating as Narnia, populated with Changels and chatter monkeys, princes and pepper trees, and the ever-present stinkbuggies. And nor does she stop there, creating characters that are both recognisable and compelling: including tantrum-prone pre-teens, strange and mysterious creatures, malevolent baddies, and an ornery old camel. But Brave and True is not a just another epic tale of good and evil, it’s also a gentle coming of age story, proving that awkwardness and humour is part of the process, no matter what world you hail from. A terrific debut!