'a masterclass in plotting and elegant writing with turns of phrase that are genius' - Napier Courier
This gripping, page-turning fantasy adventure follows a dangerous quest through a divided world.
From the high reaches of a tree, Fliss watches the soldiers attempting yet again to break through the invisible wall. Amid the explosions, a drummer boy tries to escape. As he is about to be shot, Fliss reaches through the wall and pulls him to safety. But Fliss is dismayed to find she has saved an overfed rich boy. She is even more dismayed to learn that she must accompany him back through the wall on a special mission to rescue the Nightingale.
The world they have to travel through is a perilous one, full of predatory thieves, slave masters, beggars, dippers, mudlarks, drain-sliders, spies and wall-men. It is a world where the ruling families are caught up in a lethal power struggle.
Will Fliss and the despised drummer boy learn to trust each other? Who is the Nightingale? And will they all make it back alive?
“There is magic, like the wall itself, which is kept alive by the will of the Old One, the ailing last of his kind, for whom a successor must be found. There is thrilling violence and action. There is an unlikely heroine. There is, in short, everything you want in a yarn. . . . The Severed Land is to some extent about privilege and exploitation. When Kirk and Fliss are attacked by a group that wants to eat them, Kirk is ready to wipe them out. Fliss's response is to ask "Who made them like that?" It's also about people who are so blinded by sectarianism, they act against their own best interests. In short, it's about the world today. Not too many pages into this story, I found myself hoping it might prove to be the first in a series. I won't be the only one.”
Paul Little, North and South
“. . . a simply told yet beautifully rendered tale that holds a mirror to our past and present. . . . The Severed Land is a masterclass in plotting and elegant writing with turns of phrase that are genius. This is a fascinating read, celebrating acts of courage and moral fortitude and offering plausible young heroes for our troubled times.”
Louise Ward, Napier Courier
“In a welcome return to writing fiction intended primarily for younger readers, Maurice Gee has definitely pulled it off. This is an excellent book. . . . what an adventure: power, thievery, slavery, acts of immense courage and bravado, and a definite nod to an underworld of violence and cruelty. It’s all managed brilliantly. . . . Fliss is a remarkably-drawn character. She is gutsy, determined, brave, and sure of herself. . . . It goes without saying really that this is well-written – I honestly don’t think Maurice Gee could write a bad sentence if he tried – and the characters spring from the pages. It also goes without saying that it may have been aimed at younger readers, but that like any really good book, its audience is in fact anyone who loves a great story. Of course it’s not as complex as it might have been were it written with an adult readership in mind, but sometimes less is more! And while the story is complete, it’s possible there could be more – I guess we’ll just have to hope.”
Sue Esterman, Booksellers News
“As always in his Salt series, Gee has created a convincingly grim slave society and a range of lively, interestingly-motivated characters. The bleak world of Rule with its wealthy minority struggling for even more power, while the exploited majority face starvation and suffering, is one that may offer echoes to astute young readers.”
Trevor Agnew, The Dominion Post Weekend
“Maurice Gee's first young adult: novel in seven years is both a gripping page-turner and filled within sight into the drivers of human actions . . . I enjoyed this book as an adult. Children and young people will love it.”
“Gee creates a rich fantasy world and conflicted characters in an entertaining adventure that would easily translate to the big screen.”
Graham Hepburn, Weekend Herald
“In The Severed Land, Gee deftly creates a world that is complete and compelling, but it is his cast of characters that will entice and enthral. His richly varied world is besmirched by the greed and violence of its human inhabitants - but not all of them. Gee offers a dark view of society, but always holds out hope that the good within humans, both individually and severally, may yet win out. . . . The novel would make an excellent study for students of writing: you won't find an ugly sentence or a word out of place. . . . The plot tumbles briskly through a series of adventures, but it is the growth of the characters that will keep the reader spellbound. His characters leap from the page; you feel you might meet them striding across your own landscape. . . . This is as fine a fantasy novel as Gee has produced, and I hope he will find the energy and enthusiasm to offer up another instalment.”
Anna Mackenzie, NZ Books
“We knew we were in good hands as Maurice Gee’s elegant writing carried us along on an epic and archetypal adventure of warring families, colonialism, mysterious strangers and making allies out of enemies. Not a word is wasted in this taut, thrilling, often brutal and morally complex tale,”
Judges of the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
“50 Best Books for Kids: Pared-back prose marks this unexpected novel from one of our greatest writers for children. Fliss, a complex and convincing heroine, must undertake a rescue mission inside the land separated from her own by an invisible wall.”
Anne Packer, NZ Listener
Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Award
Awarded • 2018 • A Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book