Harsu & the Werestoat

Author(s): Barbara Else

NZ Middle Fiction

Harsu has five droplets of god blood and a treasured cloak to remember his father by. Now his father is gone, he lives with his mother, his only friend an old onager donkey. And something is not right with Harsu's mother. She has started kidnapping children, and sometimes her skin grows a soft down, little sharp ears emerge, and she turns into a horrible stoat. Harsu doesn't know if five godlet drops are enough to help him rescue the kidnapped children and turn his own mother to good. And now that he is twelve, he too might be becoming a were-animal...


Ruth's Review:

Harsu is human, except for five godlet drops that run in his blood, and he led a happy childhood until smallpox disfigured his face. The only mementoes he has of his beloved father, who disappeared around the same time, are a cloak, a clay tablet and an onager, a type of donkey. Since then his mother, Daama, shape-shifting and witch-like, cannot bear Harsu's imperfection and is constantly looking to kidnap a "perfect" child.

After relatives thwart her latest attempt, the pair embark on an amazing time-travel journey that takes them to ancient Sumeria, a Viking village, Cromwell's England and eventually modern-day New Zealand, with Daama stealing children along the way.

Daama is a truly appalling narcissist, who has no scruples in her obsession with owning perfect children. Her magical abilities enable her to turn into a kind of stoat at will and transport them from one time period to another. But Harsu is a clever boy and realises that taking his time and being patient are the best ways to stop her wickedness. First, though, he has to work out the clues on his father's clay tablet.


Else, whose Tales of Fontania quartet won much acclaim, builds a fantastical world in her new novel for age 10+. She incorporates humour, character, drama and morality in a tale of good versus evil. Harsu is a delightful character and a good and loyal friend who, in spite of his upbringing, manages to choose the right way to live.

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Product Information

Fairytale, time travel and adventure for middle readers.

"This is an original and unusual story with all the best characteristics of Barbara’s writing: brilliant world-building, frequently funny and a morally strong, engaging hero."

Julia Marshall, Publisher

Barbara Else is one of New Zealand’s most successful writers, well known for her sharp humour. She is a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature, and has worked as a university tutor, editor and freelance writer.

General Fields

  • : 9781776572199
  • : Gecko Press
  • : Gecko Press
  • : March 2019
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 233
  • : Barbara Else
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : E
  • : very good