The Half Men of O – Maurice Gee

Published by Puffin Books

Nick had seen the birthmark on Susan’s wrist.  It had two parts.  Each was shaped like a tear drop, curved like a moon.  One was bright red and the other golden brown.

 Susan had always been a bit odd and never really got on with her cousin Nick, but the mark on her wrist draws them together in a frightening adventure.  They’re summoned to the beautiful land of O in a last-ditch attempt to save the planet from cruel Otis Claw and his followers the evil Halfmen, who have lost every trace of human goodness and kindness.

I first read this book when I was in primary school, and I devoured the rest of the books in the trilogy.  It introduced me to the world of make believe and to a local author, Maurice Gee.  I have read several of his stories over the years, but the Half Men of O always stuck with me, so I had to refresh my version of it.  And I was pleased that I did.

 Susan lives in Golden Bay, at the Top of theSouth Island.  Nick is from Auckland and visiting with his Aunty and Uncle when he encounters a strange man, Jimmy Jaspers, who threatens him, unless he passes a message onto the “girlie with the mark”.  Susan ends up transported to the land of O where everything is gray and into the hands of the infamous Odo Cling.  He wants to kill her, but has to take her to Otis Claw so that he can dispatch the only person who is able to threaten his empire.  Jimmy goes through to O to collect the bounty, only to be attacked by Odo’s men. Nick, unaware of the turmoil arrives in O and discovers the Woodlanders, who rescue and treat Jimmy. 

They manage to rescue Susan from Odo’s clutches, and soon the world of O has colour and beauty about it.  But then she is told of her specialness.  The mark on her arm was put there for a reason.  She now has to fulfil the destiny that she has in O.  She encounters Bird People, Stone People and Sea People in her travels around O, but she cannot avoid Otis Claw, where she has to bring the past and the future together again.

 I loved this story as much the second time around as I did the first time around, and now have to find out if the library has The Priests of Ferris and The Motherstone, the other two books in the O Trilogy.

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