Published by Text Publishing on January 27th 2016
Genres: Children's Fiction, Fantasy
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Twelve-year-old Iris has been sent to Spain on a mission: to make sure her elderly and unusual aunt, Ursula, leaves her fortune–and her sprawling estate–to Iris’s scheming parents.
But from the moment Iris arrives at Bosque de Nubes, she realises something isn’t quite right. There isan odd feeling around the house, where time moves slowly and Iris’s eyes play tricks on her. While outside, in the wild and untamed forest, a mysterious animal moves through the shadows.
Just what is Aunt Ursula hiding?
But when Iris discovers a painting named Iris and the Tiger, she sets out to uncover the animal’s real identity–putting her life in terrible danger.
There’s something very strange about Bosque de Nubes, and it isn’t just Iris’ odd Aunt Ursula, or the surreal paintings on every wall. When Iris visits the old house in Spain to try to convince her Aunt to leave it all to her, she finds dark shadows in the woods and an ominous, dark corridor where she’s not allowed to go. What exactly is her Aunt hiding here?
Iris and the Tiger is actually the name of one of Iris’ Uncle’s paintings. His famous surreal paintings hang in galleries all over the world, but in the old house they take on a slightly more… physical aspect. Iris and her new friend Jordi discover some of the secrets of the house, while at the same time uncovering a plot by the neighbours to turn the estate into a theme park.
As I read it I couldn’t help but be reassured by the fact that it was a middle grade story. It could have been a much more sinister tale if it had been told for an older audience – while it’s never a good idea to put your feet into boots that appear to be suspiciously human-feet-shaped no matter what age you are, heading alone into a dark ballroom when there’s a strange old man about who doesn’t speak? It sounds like the makings of a horror movie to me, but Iris came out of it just fine.
Sinister moments aside, this is actually a very sweet story about friendship, trust and about realising that the truth is sometimes more strange than anything you could invent. The characters in the story were just marvellous: Elderly but very sprightly Aunt Ursula, lover of the surreal; Iris, a rather headstrong and practical twelve-year-old who still manages to have plenty of imagination; Jordi with his not-quite-perfect English, who made me laugh at every turn. Even the shadow hound was full of life!
This middle-grade mystery by an Aussie author was a delightful read, and I think I would have loved it as a twelve-year-old, although it may have been a leeetle too creepy at times! Still, if you’re okay with a car with claws and tennis-playing sunflowers, then get a hold of this book!