I’m not very good at providing feedback or reviews, and as such am going to practice. So imagine this is directed to a hypothetical Mr Jacques or you, the reader, have just published Redwall.
Give me a million dollars, please.
Okay, but seriously.
The basic idea behind Redwall is its biggest draw, the interest in animals doing human things. Within that idea Redwall has great success. The attraction is that if you, the reader, want to read about animals doing things, the book rewards that interest. Moreso than a lot of other works on similar themes, the book is interested in animals doing things. There’s energy in there, and if you want to have your enthusiasm matched, Redwall does so with a willful lack of self-awareness that becomes confidence. The book trusts you too want to read about animals with people problems, and is a little more excited about them than it needs to be. It’s welcoming in that way. It invites you in, shows you the cards, and lets you wonder how they’re to be played out.
It’s a lot more brutal than I expected. Mice, rats, and forest creatures get killed. They get killed in natural ways; they get killed by cruelty, but they die and Redwall pulls few punches. No one really expects the mains to die, but otherwise, it is varmint season at Redwall Abbey. Not only miscellaneous rats, but named characters. I wasn’t expecting that, and was surprised at how well it worked on a kid’s book.
It is a kid’s book, or at least young adult. The writing is aimed young. The same enthusiasm which makes the book welcoming adds a level of roughness, a defiance of polish, that makes the energy authentic. I get the impression Jacques really liked the story and had a ton of fun writing it.
Having said all that, I don’t quite know if I liked it or not. I obviously liked it enough, because I tore through it in a few busy days. But I’m not sure about it. It’s a good book to have read, and I’m pleased it’s in my headspace.