This book intrigued me because it received so many fantastic reviews. Not to mention, it gobbled up many children's literary prizes.
Coriander's story reads like a fairytale: her birth mother seems to have one foot steeped in the land of mystical magic ( think the rule of Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" ) and the other planted firmly as the mistress of a wealthy home in London..... tantalizingly near the bridge.
The Cromwell rebellion strikes and soon Coriander's world ( and that of her mythical mother's ) seems to slide downward.
Once an epoch in her young life, the discovery and testing of a pair of silver shoes is far too soon the crux between an enchanted world and one of realism, devastation and despair. Coriander loses all that she holds dear while , paradoxically, the land she so loves is overtaken by war and plague.
Balancing a world full of magic against the puritanical reignings of two new locals, Gardner sets Coriander midplace in two drastically different spheres.
I was much taken by Mr. Thankless ( the aptly named tailor ) and his shy apprentice, Gabriel. Not to mention the role of the effervescent "Puck"- type character, here fleshed out in the noble Tycho.
Gardner's prose is outstanding, liquid, moving.... her worlds taut and tangible.
I only wish this stellar book had developed more of one side of Coriander's life.
Read it for yourself and find out why.