Saturday, June 19, 2010
THE WILDKIN’S CURSE By Kate Forsyth. Sydney: Macmillan, 2010.
This is a so-called “companion volume” to The Starthorn Tree, which I haven’t read, but it doesn’t matter. It can be read as a stand-alone story, though it is set some years later.
The novel is set in a world in which there are different types of people – the aristocratic starkin, the lower-class hearthkin and the wildkin, who are more or less human, but with an Elvish feel about them –pointed ears and magical abilities. There are Faerie-type beings in the forests and the air, who are associated with the wildkin. In the first novel, a group of teenagers set off on a quest to rescue the brother of one of the characters, who was in an enchanted sleep. This time, the children of those characters are on a quest to free wildkin Princess Rozalina, whose starkin father is keeping her locked up in a tower and has plans for her. The fate of the entire country depends on what they do – but Princess Rozalina is dangerous, though not intentionally. Her prophecies always come to pass. Always.
Kate Forsyth is the author of a large number of award-winning children’s fantasy novels and it’s not hard to see why they won prizes. She creates characters you can care about. I don’t generally like quest novels, but this one is not about an elf, a long-lost prince a bad-tempered dwarf and a couple of bickering warriors going after a magical object. The characters are human. They love and hate, they get tired and cold and hungry.
She has also worked carefully on her cultures and background. The society is a strange mixture of Middle Ages and eighteenth century France. She uses whatever bit of history is convenient for her story. Somehow, it works. And it works, also, as a cracking good adventure.
Excuse me. I’m off to find a copy of The Starthorn Tree, so I can see where it all began.