Thursday, September 07, 2006

"I, Coriander" by Sally Gardner

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.

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