Home > Intermediate Fiction, Senior Fiction, War > The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett. Pub. Viking, 2010.

Sometimes you read a book that you know, whatever you say about it, is not going to do it justice. This is one such book.

It is a multi layer story of two gypsy boys who wander through a war ravaged country with their baby sister to look after. They come to a destroyed town that has a zoo with the animals still locked in their cages. They rest some time in the zoo and learn that the animals have voices that no-one in normal life can hear. An interchange of experience, life history and morality takes place between the animals and the young boys that leads to a surrealistic ending.

It is more than this however with the discussion analysing the the merits of war and freedom and the motives of those who wage war. What is freedom? How can war make people free?

The star of this novel is Harnett’s writing style. Sometimes lofty, always evocative, brilliantly descriptive and yet the story is so simple. This is really a fable of war and freedom and the effects that war has on the innocent both human and  animal.

I have been a Sonya Hartnett fan for some years and I heartily recommend all her novels to readers. Young readres should try The Silver Donkey and older readers Thursday’s Child.

This novel is for your thoughtful reader from Intermediate through to secondary school.

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