Friday 23 November 2012

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

Set in London during the upheaval of the Reformation of the seventeenth century, this novel blends fairy tale with historical fiction, not entirely successfully.  I kept wondering is this a children's book?  Is this fantasy?  The truth is it's a little bit of all of those and, therefore, none of those.

Coriander is a young girl who has inherited some sort of magical powers from her mother, who was some sort of Fairy Land Princess.  These powers include the ability to be transported to magical lands and live for three years locked in a chest without food or water, and maybe bring the dead back to life.

I found the histroical landmarkers and period details well researched and fascinating.  Most of the trouble started when we left London and headed for this other place.  The story felt disjointed in those moments.

But then, the lyrical and beautiful prose would carry me away and I would forget about the depravity of those historical times.  That would soon come to an abrupt halt and I crashed into a wall trying to find my way back into the story as Coriander struggled to find her way through the streets of London.

It does have a fairy tale ending, which I have to say I was pleased about.  I hang my feminist head in shame and fear for the future of my daughter. 

I gave this book 3 stars but I have also given it to a 13 year old daughter of a friend of mine and have asked for her perspective.  As I am probably not the target audience I htought it would be only fair to give her a chance to speak.  She has generously agreed to provide a book review for me when she is done so stay tuned!

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