With My Knife


Andrew Lansdown


The day before his birthday, Colyn finds a knife in a potato patch. The blade is black and the handle has a design of a circle with a tapering triangle inside.  His dad remembers losing it when he was a boy. But it looks as if it has been regularly polished. And the cutting edge—well, there’s something mysterious about it. Why do potatoes turn to stone as Colyn finishes peeling them? And did the piece of wood he whittled really bark when he threw his failed carving of a dog into the fire?

Colyn idly cuts a triangle into a potato and creates a windowstone. He discovers that, when he places his finger into the window, it doesn’t come through the other side.

He looks in—and sees a terrifying yellow eye.

Later, when making a jigsaw with his dad, he recognises it as a dragon’s eye.

So Colyn is introduced to the Otherworld of Klarin and before long his curiosity leads him to create a doorway into the borderland between worlds: a white wrapping mist where dragons roam.

But a doorway in is a doorway out. Through it a dragon comes hunting.

Making five smooth stones from potatoes—reminding us perhaps of David about to confront Goliath—Colyn faces the dragon.

With My Knife is a spare and beautiful story like the harsh landscape which forms its backdrop—wasting nothing, hiding secrets, only revealing its treasures when you peer closely.

 Colyn blinked in disbelief. ‘Oh,’ he said. ‘There you are. You’re alive.’ The dog looked up at him, his head cocked to one side, one ear pricked, the other bent.

His father reached the shed. ‘Hello,’ he said. ‘Where’d the mutt come from?’’

Colyn knelt to pat the kelpie. ‘I made him,’ he said. ‘With my knife.’’

With My Knife is the first book in the trilogy, The Chronicles of Klarin.  Parts of it are strongly reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife, though Lansdown’s work was published a year or two earlier and exposits a very different worldview. 

 A gripping book, highly recommended.

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