D by Michel  Faber
(Doubleday, 2019)

D

by Michel Faber

Dhikilo was born in a country that doesn’t technically exist, but she’s doing her best to feel at home in Cawber-on-Sands, a crumbly seaside town in England. She hasn’t seen her parents since she was a baby, and that’s not the only thing that makes her different from the other kids at her school. Still, she’s doing fine.

Until one day, the letter D disappears from the language. It just vanishes from every word that used to contain it, and Dhikilo seems to be the only person who notices it’s gone. You’d think the loss of one little letter wouldn’t make much of a ifference to aily life. But it actually makes things very ifficult and, eventually, quite esperate.

Fortunately, Dhikilo teams up with a mysterious, recently deceased professor and his shape-shifting dog, on a mission to get the D back. She travels to the land of Liminus, which has been conquered by a hideous dictator, the Gamp. It’s just as well Dhikilo is a brave, resourceful girl with many unexpected skills, because she needs them all to cope with the threats and perils thrown at her by the creatures she meets – the Magwitches, the Quilps, the Spottletoes and other strange tribes. Can she escape from the terrifying Bleak House? Can she stop the Gamp destroying the language? And can Dhikilo – a girl with no past and no country – discover who she is and where she really belongs?

D is much more than a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ death. It’s a way for young readers to make sense of 21st century politics and societal change, it’s an inspirational tale of a girl who refuses to be brought down by dark forces, and it’s a whole new world of adventure in the grand tradition of Narnia. D is Michel Faber’s first novel for young adults.