Book Review: Thunder Oak – Welkin Weasels #1 (Garry Kilworth)

Publisher: Corgi

Pages: 388

Release Date: July 1st 1997

Summary (from Goodreads):

Long ago, long before Sylver the weasel was born, the humans all left Welkin. Now life for a weasel — under the heavy paw of the vicious stoat rulers — is pretty miserable (unless you happen to be a weasel who likes living in a hovel and toiling all hours for the benefit of the stoats).

It’s certainly not enough for Sylver. Or for his small band of outlaws, both jacks and jills. but slingshots and darts can only do so much against heavily-armed stoats and life as an outlaw has a fairly limited future (probably a painful one, too). That’s when Sylver comes up with his plan — a heroic plan that could destroy the stoats’ reign of power for ever. He will find the humans, and bring them back to Welkin! And the first step is to follow up a clue from the past — a clue that lies in a place known as Thunder Oak…

Review:

This is a book series I read and loved as a child, but haven’t picked up in a long time. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t have aged as well as I would have hoped – you know how it is with some things you read or watched as a child: you think they’re wonderful when you’re 10 but not so much as you get older.

I guess there were some elements of this that weren’t as good as I remember. I am a good 15 years older though, and my tastes/reading age have changed quite a lot.

I love the idea behind this story: the humans have mysteriously disappeared and the animals have taken to living in their castles, cooking food like humans and picking up some of their other bad habits too. The stoats rule over the land and they treat weasels as slaves.

I remember struggling to get into this book when I first read it, and it was the same again this time. It dives into things pretty quickly, which isn’t normally a bad thing, but I found I struggled to get my head around the world, and could have done with a gentler introduction. Once it gets going though it’s a great adventure story, with tons of encounters with strange and magical creatures, high stakes and clear task throughout. While this sets up the trilogy nicely, it works well as a standalone novel.

My favourite thing about this book is the villain. Prince Poynt is the stoat that rules over Welkin. He’s whiny and spoilt and manipulative, and all that makes for a perfect villain. The best bits are in the small details though: believing a white coat to be more regal, Prince Poynt keeps his ermine coat all year round, and won’t let anyone else change their fur (I told you he was spoilt!)

I think the one thing that disappointed me about this book was it all felt a little simple. This may sound unfair for a children’s story, but I’ve read plenty of other children’s stories with more complex language than this one. It all felt a little basic, which was a shame. Still, it’s a real fast paced and action packed story that I think younger readers will really enjoy.

3