Westmark Trilogy (Lloyd Alexander) 5*

When I train my analytical guns on Westmark, my rifle turns to flowers in my hands.  Who is this magician known as Lloyd Alexander?  How did he make a story that’s all about love and violence and pain, and write it for 10-year-olds to bury in their hearts forever?

Across 20 years, the two things that I remembered with crystalline clarity were the opening paragraph with its consciously curious diction that Theo was a “printer’s devil” and the scene of Red Cockade going bravely to the gallows.  Red Cockade, whom we never saw as a free man, simmered in my brain for over two decades.  For perspective, here’s a picture of Kurt Cobain’s infant daughter:

frances bean cobain

When I finished the first book of The Hunger Games, I remember thinking with glee: “This series is going to be just like Westmark!”  Upon closer examination, my free association was spot on.  The first book is romance and adventure, and then books two and three are drenched in blood and PTSD.  I was vaguely worried that I’d reread it and find the magic gone, but Theo and Mickle are as real as ever.  In particular, it’s perplexing and delightful that Mickle can have so little screen time but be one of the best female characters ever in the history of the universe.

I realize that this review is barely cogent, but like I said: rifles turned to flowers.

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