Title: The Tears of the Salamander
Author: Peter Dickinson
Publication information: Macmillan Publishers Limited (2004)
The Tears of a Salamander by Peter Dickinson follows the story of Alfredo, a young choir boy, and his encounters with his mysterious uncle. This is a mysterious story full of magic and depth which is marketed as a children's book but I think that YA readers may also enjoy it.
Overall the plot was quite good. I liked the mystery element and the depth to the history of Alfredo's ancestry and of the powers that his relatives have. I also like the way that the end of the plot is hinted at throughout but is not entirely clear until the very end.
In my opinion, the characters let this book down quite a lot. Although I really liked the amount of development in all of the side characters, I did not feel that I could connect with Alfredo as much as a reader should be able to connect with a protagonist. I found that, maybe due to his age, I always felt distant from him and although most of his thoughts were written, his emotions did not show well enough throughout certain plot points. This distance made this a difficult read for me as parts of it seemed to drag and I found myself getting frustrated with some of the characters.
Also, the writing made me feel distant from the characters. It was not very descriptive in the way it told the reader about the area or how the protagonist was feeling, leaving a lot of questions unanswered. Due to this being a children's book, the vocabulary was quite simple and did not really engage me that much with the plot.
Overall, I would give The Tears of the Salamander 3 out of 5 stars as I did not feel like the book itself lived up to the intriguing premise. I think that younger readers may enjoy this book because of the plot and the simplicity of the writing but unfortunately this was not for me.