Saturday, June 26, 2010

this is shyness

Melbourne author and children's book specialist Leanne Hall's first novel This Is Shyness tells the story of one night in the lives of Wildgirl and Wolfboy as they explore Shyness - a part of town where the sun never rises, a place of darkness, of eternal nighttime. Wildgirl is a tourist in shyness but she's met Wolfboy at the Diabetic Hotel and is drawn to him (he's really hot, she tells us) and he agrees to show her around.

Shyness is home to Dreamers whose dreams are now their realities, and it's also a home to sugared-up Kidds always out for a hit and will mug anyone for a chocolate bar or some lollies. Sounds cute, but they carry knives and, on this particular night, they have taken one of Wolfboy's precious belongings. Our kooky, damaged, wilful duo set out to take back what is rightfully Wolfboy's, even though this means entering Orphanville - home to the Kidds.

I read this book in a day, finishing it as a dingy tram trollied me homeward at midnight one rainy eve. Wildgirl and Wolfboy were engaging characters (particularly the howling Wolfboy) with complex backstories, witty banter and a lot of energy. It was the world, though, that really sucked me in. Hall has built a very familiar, but also very strange, curious place that was frightening but also drew you in. I wanted to read more! And actually, by the end of the book, I did feel there were a couple of plot points that could have benefitted from being drawn out a little further; for the story wrapped up quite neatly, but questions still remained in my mind. What is up with the creepy Doctor? What does he want? Maybe we'll be seeing some more of Wolfboy in the future...

This is Shyness is a fantastic read. For lovers of Margo Lanagan, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Simmone Howell...

Winner of the 2009 Text prize for young adult and children's writing.


  1. This book sounds really cool and different. Cute review. I'm going to be on the lookout for it :)

  2. I've read an advance copy and it is a cracker. An adolescent world of eternal dark is just the right setting for such interesting and multi-dimensional characters.

  3. richard - we got our "emerald caskets" at the shop today (younger sun bookshop, yarraville) so exciting. customers excited, staff excited. honestly, i think we are collectively your biggest fans.

  4. I'm definitely going to read this one. Sounds very cool.

  5. Hi Kate, so glad everything's going well. Hope the second book measures up. I'm in Melbourne soon so will have to come out and say hi. Cheers.

  6. I think I may just also have to get my hands on a copy of this one too .... sounds different to lots of things that I have read lately and I am looking for something new


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