The Halfmen of O – Maurice Gee


Chosen by Suzy

❝ Okay, so The Halfmen of O wasn’t quite the distinguished novel that our bookclub was originally going to read, but upon learning about the grim content of In My Father’s Den it was time to switch to another Maurice Gee classic – albeit a children’s book. The Halfmen of O didn’t feel as well constructed as Under the Mountain, but was still a rollicking read. There were some quite visceral & horrible events, that even as an adult I was quite troubled by. I mean, how terrifying is a Bloodcat!? Very terrifying. While this wasn’t quite the satisfying read, when trying to view through the lens of a child it’s another belter from the legendary Maurice Gee. – Suzy

❝ I never did read this as a child and really wished I did! Reading it now as an adult I felt the story was lacking in depth with character development and plot but had to keep reminding myself it was written for children. Once I let go of this and tried to read through the eyes of an adolescent I enjoyed to easy flow of the novel and the ‘Kiwiness’ of it. Maurice Gee did an amazing job with this good vs evil story and I have no doubt it left many young readers on the edge of their seats! – Jodie

❝ Maurice Gee has an incredible imagination and has conjured up some amazing creatures in The Halfmen of O. I especially liked the stone people who could detect the tiniest amount of light and would suffer if exposed to it. The main characters were simplistic and lacked development which may have been a feature that would go unnoticed with younger readers for whom the book is intended. I enjoyed the story but found it a little short and simple for my taste and was wanting more at the end. – Jo

❝ Cousins Susan and Nick think their summer holiday will be like any other but when Susan falls down a mineshaft and into another world beneath the earth, her cousin goes off after her. Together they battle many interesting and scary creatures, knowing humanity requires their success. The book was reflective of its time, (published 1982) in both its girl needs saving plot *rolls eyes* but also in its creative, imaginative, captivating other world right here in New Zealand. It reminded me how so very clever Maurice Gee is and though I have always enjoyed his general fiction, it’s his children’s books where his forte lies. As children of the 80s we were lucky to have these magical, local stories to read. – Rachel


Published 1982
Oxford University Press
204 pages

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