Saturday, 30 October 2010

Luka and the Fire of Life

Luka And The Fire Of Life by Salman Rushdie (Random House)
PB RRP $29.95
ISBN 978-0-2240-9021-6
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

Luka and the Fire of Life is a novel for younger readers and a companion to Haroun and the Sea of Stories. This time, it’s Luka who’s going on an adventure, to save his storytelling father by recovering the Fire of Life in Magic World.

Aided by his friends, Bear the dog and Dog the bear (don’t worry, it’s not too confusing), Luka is forced to go into the Magic World after his father falls under a curse of eternal sleep. His father’s spirit is slowly being transported to the afterlife via a ghost nicknamed Nodaddy. Nodaddy acts as a guide into the Magic World, though Luka doesn’t trust him. It’s an uneasy alliance that is the least of Luka’s problems.

Rushdie’s brilliant wordplay and colourful language is engaging throughout the story. His rich and lush description of the inhabitants of Magic World is ripe for reading out loud. Rushdie’s roots in traditional folk stories will sweep up readers along for the ride, with loads of suspense and humour. It’s a gentle, old-school narrative that works wonders.  

I love Rushdie’s homage to video games in the story. Magic World is broken up into levels and there are save points. Luka has multiple lives up his sleeve so he can retry tricky areas. Kids will get a thrill out of these features and it’s something that can borrow for their own stories.   

Luka and the Fire of Life is essential reading for fantasy lovers and anyone who enjoys an old-fashioned story. It’s recommended for ages 10 and up.

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