Review: The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde

Cover image from Little Island

Cover image from Little Island

The Wordsmith

Patricia Forde

Little Island, 2015 

Letta is the wordsmith’s apprentice. She creates word cards for the people of Ark, and helps her master collect and archive words.In Ark, language is restricted to 500 words, known as List. This has been decreed by John Noa, leader of Ark, who believes that language led to the downfall of humankind and the Melting. When Letta’s master disappears, she must take over his work and the responsibility that comes with it. However, Letta soon comes to question the society she has always known, and its suppression of language and culture.

The Wordsmith is a gripping dystopian read that will make the reader think about the role and importance of language in their own life. How many words do we need to survive, to communicate fully? Why does language matter? Letta is a strong protagonist who grows throughout the novel, as a a result of her interactions with Marlo, a Desecrator. The Desecrators live outside Ark, using the old language, playing music, and keeping hope and culture alive. World building is a real strength of this novel, the society is richly crafted and vividly described. The narrative is compelling, building up to a dramatic conclusion. The ending leaves some questions unanswered, a sequel would be very welcome!

I love the cover – designed by Steve Simpson – and the use of word cards at the start of each chapter. It is a beautifully designed and written book, highly recommended for readers aged 11+

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