The Land Of Roar is a sweet book that is all about the magic of play and make-believe. Rose and Arthur grew up playing in Roar, the magical land where they are Masters, but as they get older they forget about it. But when their granddad gets sucked into Roar, they have no choice but to go in after him. But will Roar exist after all this time?
Arthur and Rose were the perfect heroes for this book. They were as fun and vibrant as Roar and completely swept me up in their troubles. While Rose may start off a bit unlikable, I promise she grows on you. Both characters are somewhat reluctant heroes, Rose more than Arthur. Neither truly believe that Roar is real until Grandad is pulled away while cleaning the attic. That’s when the magic begins. But they find much more than they anticipated when they climb through and into their ‘imaginary’ land. Both are forced to step up and become the heroes and Masters of Roar that they once were.
‘Both are forced to step up and become the heroes and Masters of Roar that they once were.’
Arthur and Rose each have a unique character arc that is perfectly suited to their identities and felt true to their age. Arthur is afraid of being left behind, of starting high school and of losing Rose’s friendship. Rose is scared of losing her friends and being called ‘weird’. These fears manifest themselves in different ways for each protagonist, putting strain on their relationship and threatening to destroy Roar. I won’t spoil how their character arcs finish, but it was a genuine and heartfelt conclusion with both characters coming out stronger. Their development as individuals and as siblings was one of the best elements of the book.
Alongside the heroes, the villain was equally strong. I don’t know if it is the lingering fear I still hold over Batman’s Scarecrow or if they are just inherently scary things, but the scarecrow villain of this book definitely struck some fear into me. Not only is his appearance terrifying (part scarecrow, part actual crow) but his presence also sends shivers shooting up the spine. I can only imagine how on edge I would’ve been if I had read this years ago.
The secondary characters were also pretty good. While I wasn’t enamoured with Win (who I found a little annoying) I can see his appeal to boys in this readership and think he was necessary to the book. I did love Grandad though. He was a balancing force in the book and really brought the conclusion together. While he was one of the main drivers of the plot, he was also intrinsic to the characters’ final realisations and without him, the ending would not have been as satisfying. The Lost Girls were enjoyable as well, though a little bit too familiar.
‘I did love Grandad though. He was a balancing force in the book and really brought the conclusion together.’
My main critique of the book was that some of the consequences didn’t feel serious enough. This was mostly a problem when the threat was fire. I know that its an imaginary land, but there were a few too many ‘close-calls’ with fire that didn’t quite have the dramatic consequences I would’ve expected. Fire stopped feeling real-world dangerous, which meant that a large chunk of the threat in the final chapters was significantly diminished. That being said, all other dangers were terrifying and the stakes felt very, very real.
My other issue was the made-up language. I found it hard to get my head around and found myself stumbling across these sections. It didn’t roll off the tongue and didn’t sound funny enough for the effort put into reading it. I think that some kids will love it, but it wasn’t a winner for me.
The Land of Roar is a really great book for any kid who loves reading about secret worlds, who is about to face a new challenge or who needs a little reminder of how cool their sibling is. A great way to get a little burst of magic in your day,
Title: The Land of Roar
Author: Jenny McLachlan
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Extent: 284 pages
Read If You Like: The Witching Hours series by Jack Henseleit, The Fairy Realm series by Emily Rodda, Peter Pan by JM Barrie