A children’s book set in Western Australia and rich in detail and texture,
this is a quintessential adventure of good triumphs over evil
Bilby, a soft and gentle marsupial is enslaved by an evil rat colony, until through a terrible twist of fate, he meets Essy – a happy-go-lucky snail.
Menaced by the evil rat Fisck, who is determined to kill them, the pair escape the rats and undertake a perilous journey from the wet South West forests of Western Australia, through a capital city, and into the red centre of spinifex country.
Pursued by their enemies the two unlikely friends are on a dangerous race against time as they search for somewhere safe they can call home.
Bilby is a gorgeously evocative book, set in Australia.
One for all youngsters, up to the age of 100 years and beyond.
Bilby, a soft and gentle marsupial is the ‘outsider’ in a rat colony. Adopted by the King and Queen he never overcomes this outsider status and is subject to cruel bullying. He has, however, one or two allies, in particular; Farazel the King who is kind. However, the Queen is most definitely not.
When we meet Bilby he is living the life of a virtual slave. His life is changed when he is forced to take part in a raiding party on a farm which breeds snails for eating. Essy, or Escargot 303, is one of these snails. Helen Allan changes point of view here, and introduces us to the snails’ world just ahead of the rats raiding party, so we are already in thrall to little happy go lucky Essy when they arrive.
During the raiding party, it is Bilby who comes across Essy, and pops him in his sack, determined to save him.
To do that, they must escape the rats. Thus begins the journey. Read more…
– Margaret Graham
A strikingly good YA read
Bilby, like its protagonist, is unassuming from the outside, and it doesn’t give away too much from its title. Venture inside, though and what at first seems like it might be a novel for children, with its anthropomorphic characterisations of a tribe of rats, quickly reveals itself to dwell on more serious themes, better suited to the maturity levels of a young adult reader.
I was blown away by this book. Not all self-published offerings are created equal but this is a CreateSpace gem which should be picked up by a traditional publisher. Helen Allan is an excellent writer, with a gifted command of language and a natural ability for storytelling.
Like Watership Down and Animal Farm before it, Bilby does not shy away from the harsh realities of life in an animal colony, with pecking orders, cruelty and death, an everyday part of existence. And like these classics, the humanisation of the animals creates a story with two levels of meaning, designed to examine the human condition and in the case of Bilby, to expose the impact of man on species like the small marsupial, which have dwindled almost to the brink of extinction.
These are the high-level concepts which make the book great but for the reader deciding whether to pick up the book, from this review, do it because of its readability. It is an exciting page-turner, high on action and adventure, with a skilfully crafted and fast-paced plot. Bilby is like a Cinderella story crossed with The Hunger Games, a fight to the death for the shy and gentle hero and his brave and sassy offsider Essy, pursued by the relentless Fisck, a battle-crazed rat warrior.
Will good triumph over evil in this edge-of-your seat drama? Helen Allan leaves us guessing till the last moment and it’s well worth the wait.
– Brydie W
This is a quintessential adventure of good triumphs over evil
A children’s book set in Western Australia and rich in detail and texture, this is a quintessential adventure of good triumphs over evil, finding yourself through adversity, and never underestimate the underdog. It bowls along at a good pace and we are introduced to a wonderful array of characters each of whom jumps to life off the page. Great fun and with a uniquely WA flavour.
– Amazon Customer