Title: PODKIN ONE-EAR
Author: Kieran Larwood
Illustrator: David Wyatt
Publisher: Clarion Books
ARC: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
TW/CW: Abuse, death of a parent (non-explicit), blood, disfiguration.
Rep: Blind (side character who is a warrior), disfiguration (main character).
In a classic fantasy world of anthropomorphic rabbits, three young siblings are on the run from the villainous Gorm tribe who have killed and enslaved their clan. Podkin, once destined to be clan leader, has always been spoiled, but now he must act bravely as he, his older sister, and baby brother flee for their lives.
Facing pursuit and treachery, the three collect allies in their search for refuge, until at last they are ready to fight back against the Gorm and attempt to rid the land of an evil scourge.
Let’s be honest here. As soon as I saw this on NetGalley, realized it was about rabbits, and was compared to WATERSHIP DOWN, I smashed that request button. Thankfully, HMH has been unbelievably kind to me in accepting my ARC requests and I was approved the next day.
This is definitely a middle grade book. I’ve seen a few reviews on Goodreads that say the book is childish and I mean… yes, it totally is. Because it’s intended audience is definitely in the lower part of the middle grade demographic. However, I enjoyed this book tremendously.
Our book starts out with a bard coming to a warren on Bramblemass Eve. In exchange for room and board, he tells the warren a little known story about Podkin One-Ear. We learn that most stories the rabbits have heard about Podkin have been when he was older and more established as a leader. This bard tells the story of Podkin as a child, before he lost his ear, and before he was the brave rabbit of legend.
Since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed stories about anthropomorphic animals, especially rabbits, and PODKIN ONE-EAR did not disappoint me. I read this one to my godkids and they enjoyed it as well. Larwood does a great job in creating a very diverse cast of rabbits and took pains to show that even good people (rabbits) will do things that are not so good in order to protect themselves. We also get just regular ol’ villians and people who just want to do good, no matter the personal cost. I particularly enjoyed that the hero Podkin seeks out is a blind warrior who is still a great warrior despite being struck blind years ago by a witch.
The villains in this story are truly terrifying. Rabbits who have been taken over by a long forgotten god and are turned into iron clad monsters. Some of the scenes were a little heavy for my younger godkids, so I wouldn’t definitely take care before letting your own young ones read this, especially if they are easily frightened.
The artwork in the book is BEAUTIFUL. There are several illustrations that I would love to have as posters. I think the illustrator did a fantastic job in capturing the different moments shown.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a story with tiny heroes!