Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Middle Grade Fantasy review of The Missing Barbegazi by H.S. Norup

44650388The Missing Barbegazi by H.S. Norup
Format:  ARC Paperback
Publisher:  Jolly Fish Press
Number of Pages:  224
Publishing:  November 12th,  2019
Source:  ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  

Opening Line: "Tessa aimed her binoculars at the white blanket of new snow, searching for a Barbegazi."

Tessa's Opa (grandfather) shared many stories with her, but her favorite is the one of how he was saved after an avalanche by a Barbegazi.  Everyone in their village believed Tessa's Opa was crazy but not Tessa.  He'd always planned to show her the spot where he was rescued, but now he's gone.  Since then, Tessa and her mother have been caring for her Oma, who lately has become lost after her husband's death.  To make her Oma feel better, Tessa wants to prove that Barbegazi's exist, that her Opa was right.  She has a lot to prove and very little to go on.  

Gawion's twin sister Maeg is missing, presumably lost after an avalanche.   Gawion knows in his gut that's impossible because both of them can ride the snow of an avalanche and his sister could never get buried in the snow.    After a previous bad experience with humans, Gawion's parents forbid him from searching for Maeg anywhere near the human village, and most of all from interacting with them.  Humans are dangerous and not to be trusted.  But, Gawion feels the only way he will be able to help his sister is by getting some answers from the nearby villagers.  After Tessa has a mishap while skiing out of bounds, Gawion comes to her rescue and later they join forces to find Maeg.  They also discover the true reason Maeg's missing, which turns out to be more sinister then they thought, she might've been captured by Professor Bahne from the Institute of Zoology in Zurich who's researching the existence of the Barbegazi.  

The Missing Barbegazi is the debut novel from Danish author, H. S. Norup.  It is set in the wintery backdrop of the alpine mountains and is the tale of a young girl in search of the mythical creature from her Opa's stories.  The Barbegazi are a gnome or dwarf-like creature covered in white fur, with a long beard, and large feet, they live in the freezing cold in shelters covered in snow and help people who become trapped after an avalanche.  Each chapter alternates between Tessa and Gawion and is separated by excerpts from Professor Bahne's book, Habits & Habitats:  A Historic Account of Alpine Elves, with events taking place from December 26th through December 31st.  

Norup credits some of her inspiration for the story from her time living in Switzerland and skiing while her sons took ski race training.  It captures the atmosphere of an Austrian village, swishing on skis, the cable cars and lifts pulling you up the mountainside.  The mention of goulash soup and the use of Oma and Opa to refer to Tessa's grandparents had me nostalgic for Germany.  And maybe because I was thinking about small villages and foods, I personally would have loved more of there inclusion.  I do so love immersing myself in all the sights, sounds and smells of another culture.  The Missing Barbegazi is a very unique story and I quite enjoyed learning about the Barbegazi., especially the snippets between each chapter from the Professor.    

Tessa is a sweet young girl, whose family is grieving the recent loss of her Opa.  She's trying to combat the village's negative views of her Opa while also trying to cheer up her Oma.  Her heart always seems to be in the right place but at the same time, she takes risks.  She's so determined to get answers and despite knowing the dangers of skiing out of bounds on the course, she still forges ahead.  The story isn't filled with fast-paced action, aside from the times she is skiing, and Tessa isn't really in tremendous danger from the professor.  Rather it's a story of Tessa's growth,  from a rash kid to the young girl who takes other's feelings into consideration.  And her coming to the overall realization of what could happen if she proves the existence of Barbegazi.  Which ultimately leaves her questioning whether it's more important to prove everyone else wrong or to know that you're right despite what everyone else thinks?     


  1. Sounds like a great story for winter. It sounds full of mysteries, interesting mythological beings, and an interesting setting.

  2. I hadn't heard of this one before. It sounds like a fun read! Thanks for sharing. :)