Magic exists beneath our feet, if we only know where to look …
Growing up in a New York orphanage, Ayla has no idea she has Irish roots. It is not until she comes to Ireland that she finds out just how deep her roots really are...
Category: Accelerated Reader - Middle Years Plus, Celtic, Children's fiction, Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy
The Ayla Trilogy
Magic exists beneath our feet, if we only know where to look …
Growing up in a New York orphanage, Ayla has no idea who her family is. It is not until she comes to Ireland that she finds out just how deep her roots really are.
Then her past rises up to haunt her and seeks to destroy her as Ayla is abducted and buried alive in the bowels of the earth.
Above ground, her three best friends set out to find and save her from a fate that has been lying in wait for centuries. Guided by Ayla’s uncles, they must make a treacherous journey that takes them down among the very roots of time.
A compelling adventure full of danger, betrayal and magic as three friends battle to save their friend Ayla from a terrible fate.… the dark edge to the story is quite masterfully done – even for the adult reader, there is a hint of the macabre! The supernatural element to this story was well presented; it was both intriguing and engaging. This story is also really well written from start to finish, and has an originality that sets it apart from the other fantasy stories- particularly with its links to Irish mythology and its links to contemporary Ireland
Matt Griffin's fantasy creation … lies at the very darkest edge of fairy tale … It is a place not of nursery story but of nightmare, not of Tir Na Nog, but of an 'other' magical pre Ireland where life literally withers away after forbidden return. Yet his creation and his narrative are all the more resonant and potent, and indeed all the more terrifying, for their link to the tropes and archetypes of ancient tales. One of the particular strengths of Matt Griffin's narrative is placing within this dark fairy tale context a quartet of young protagonists who are fully contemporary in their language and outlook. They are every inch kids of today, clever, lippy, streetwise. These are certainly no Pevensie children, stumbling with wide eyed wonder into Narnia … [A] Cage of Roots [is] a gripping and powerful read, a potent and imaginative refreshing of many of the tropes and themes of great children's fantasy - with more than a touch of darkness thrillingly added. And of course that wonderful whack of Irishness. Matt Griffin uses very effectively … some of the classic fiction techniques: starting in mid action, interweaving split narratives. It is most skillful writing in any terms - and, as an authorial debut, exceptional. His already much admired artist's imagination, together with its expertly crafted realisation, clearly transfers readily into his writing. Often in trilogies/quartets, second books can drop off a little in quality. But not so here. Storm Weaver, as much a continuation as a sequel, fully maintains the momentum and visceral excitement of the first book … From the ending, it is clear that this sequence is not yet complete - a cause for eager, indeed impatient, anticipation. Assuming that any forthcoming completion will be as good as the first books (and there is every encouragement here to think so) then this will be a very fine and important addition to the cannon of quality children's fantasy literature. Matt Griffin provides his own art work and the simple but darkly elegant covers and strong, menacing illustrations make these books stunning packages in their own right as well complementing the text superbly. It is a shame there are, at present, no hardback editions to collect for posterity, but surely this sequence will soon get the US publication it well merits, and hopefully then
5 stars … this story is really good … this book would be good for both girls and boys … I liked the way the book swaps from one character to the next and it is very exciting, you don't want to put the book down because you want to know what is happening. Will be recommending this book to my class
an original and engaging fantasy … gorgeously, eerily illustrated by the author, A Cage of Roots is equal parts compelling, enchanting and unsettling
full of magic and mystery, deeply rooted in Irish mythology and legends … an astonishing debut … a dark, deep tale of destiny and loyalty of heroic proportion, a strong recommendation for fantasy readers; this will keep you on the edge of your seat. (I do not recommend this as a bedtime read!) Stunning
with stories of fear, hope, loss, fun, adventure, action, battles, betrayal, mystery and triumph, this is an amazing novel with a perfect cliffhanger ending
this is a marvellous book! It is aimed at children of ten years and older, but even though I am a little older than that, I loved it
A Cage of Roots will whisk young readers away into a strange world full of old magic, extraordinary friendships and primeval horrors
an intriguing debut for the 9 to 12 age group with some fabulous illustrations from the author … a jam packed adventure featuring time travel and Irish mythology
Recommend the excellent @ACageOfRoots by Matt Griffin. Reckon it's great for reading out loud too
I would give it 8/10 … the plot is wonderful
this book was enthralling and each character was extremely interesting … I would give this book 8 out of 10 as it was excellently written and the storyline was brilliant throughout
Very atmospheric, dark and spooky. The opening chapter gripped me and then the later ones scared me - don't read it alone and in the dark!
If you like stories to be dark, slightly scary and include legends and magic, you will love this book!
The story was very exciting and I was eager to read to the end to find out Ayla’s fate. The story was original and the illustrations fantastic!
I loved this story
Scary, Creepy, Amazing!
Full of mystery and magic, ‘A Cage of Roots’ is a story rich in Irish folklore and legend... A book for older children, particularly those who enjoy a thrill of fear!
It was a satisfying ending but open ended and I hope there will be another book to tell you what happened
This book was really tense … At the end I really wanted to find out what would happen next
a gripping and truly frightening opening chapter … Irish mythology is ingrained in Matt Griffin’s novel and works to give it a depth and cogency that make it stand out from other fantasy fiction … Cage of Roots will probably have particular resonance for Irish readers familiar with the folklore that supports it, but readers without that knowledge may well be inspired to find out more, such is the atmosphere and sense of adventure created by the author. It could well send readers off to find out more about hurling too, which is terrifically well described! At the finish, everything is set for a new adventure and it will be interesting to see where the author takes it. This is an impressive and imaginative debut novel and Matt Griffin’s own brooding black and white illustrations add to the mood of mysticism
an astonishing debut, filled with the subtle nuance of nightmares, A Cage of Roots weaves a path that blends effortlessly between contemporary day-to-day life and the realm of the ancients. The reader is immediately plunged into the story, feeling as suffocated, confused and desperate as Ayla herself. The pacing is fast, furious, but never forced. The instant sense of danger is tangible, as the reader doesn't have time to wonder why or how or who. These essentials are revealed (with great skill, I might add) as the story unfolds, dipping and diving from the underground to the above ground. The characters are well drawn, with a real sense of personality and relationship. And this book is frightening... gripping and moving! A dark, deep tale of destiny and loyalty of heroic proportion, a strong recommendation for fantasy readers; this will keep you on the edge of your seat. (I do not recommend this as a bedtime read.) Stunning.
this is an impressive and imaginative debut novel and Matt Griffin’s own brooding black and white illustrations add to the mood of mysticism
a powerful first chapter that grabs hold of its readers and ensnare them tightly in its tendrils, unfolds into a dark, subterranean world of terror … a remarkable debut novel … one of those rare books that has the potential to imprint itself permanently on one’s memory … a uniquely Irish thriller
captivating … an abundance of unusual ideas … if you are going to get lost in a book, this is a fine choice ... the author’s atmospheric illustrations must be mentioned, which add immensely to the potent mysticism. All in all, this is an excellent midnight read for young goblins’ ‘The author is at his strongest while underground, depicting all the terrible and unimaginable horrors – a hellish dark place that suggests what would happen if Neil Gaiman and H.P. Lovecraft decided to co-write a gardening manual
An astonishingly different and chillingly striking tale that envelopes the pages in a cloak of darkness and mystery. The author hurls the reader straight into the middle of the story, waiting before making introductions and explaining friendships, which effectively ensures you feel Ayla’s shock at the unknown world she finds herself in. The friendship and bravery of the children on their quest holds a torch of light to the fear, the author leaves you on the brink of doubt as you literally will the light to stay true and strong. The scarily real illustrations reach out as pages are turned, knowing that they come directly from the authors mind, as he is the illustrator, connects them even more strongly to the story. This has the feeling of a modern fairy tale about it, full of the scarily weird and vibrantly wonderful, as you turn the last page you are left standing on the edge of wanting more!
unusual and atmospheric this is not a bedtime read - the author's own rather uncanny illustrations add strongly to the feel of the book
Author and award-winning illustrator Matt Griffin talks about the inspiration behind his debut novel, A Cage of Roots.
Download Teaching Guides: Teaching guide to the book by Peter Heaney
Also by Matt Griffin: