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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.


Sandy Fussell said...

This review has made me reshuffle the reading pile on my desk. Just put The Wildkin's Curse on top.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hope you like it as much as I did, Sandy. There are a lot of fantasy novels for kids and young adults these days and it's often hard to decide whether they are likely to be any good, but I have read one other Kate Forsyth novel and I like her style. I intend to read more.