Thornspell by Helen Lowe
Prince Sigismund has lived in the small West Castle on the edge of his father’s kingdom for many years. The castle, village and park are surrounded by a large wall and gate. Sigismund hasn’t been allowed outside of the wall for a long time and he likes to dream about what lies beyond the gate and the silent forest that comes up to the western wall. The forest is forbidden and no one has been allowed to enter it for almost a 100 years, not since his great-grandfather placed an interdict forbidding anyone to go into the forest. No one remembers why exactly the forest is forbidden but there is a presence about the forest that makes people avoid it. No one would dare to enter it. There are many stories about the forest. One story tells of a kingdom in the middle of the forest and an enchanted sleeping princess under the spell of an evil fairy. Sigismund loves hearing these stories. Nothing exciting ever happens to him until one day he speaks to a mysterious lady through the castle gate and falls under a sleeping sickness only to be cured by another lady in his dreams. Afterwards, everything changes for Sigismund.
Helen Lowe has done a remarkable job in retelling and expanding the sleeping beauty fairytale. This tale focuses on the story of the prince chosen to awaken the princess and the danger and intrigue of the fairy realm when it plays in the mortal realm. Sigismund comes to realize he is the prince that must awaken the sleeping princess and put a stop to a fairy who wants to control both his kingdom and the one in the sleeping forest.
There is suspense, magic, betrayal and of course a dragon but you’ll never guess who or what is the dragon. Well I didn’t. This book is full of surprises. I stayed up late reading it in one sitting. Fantasy lovers will not be disappointed. Pair this book with Robin McKinley’s Beauty and Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley (Cinderella theme) for additional fairytales. I would expect to see this book on best book lists. Helen Lowe has won awards for her poetry and short stories. This is her first novel.
What Other Bloggers Are Saying:
Create Readers: "This is an exciting page-turner, especially for lovers of fantasy, and even for folk such as me who are not usually ardent fantasy fans." (read more...)
Alissa's Picks: "The story is definitely fantastic, with fairies (good and bad), shifting realities of real and unreal (that s comes up again and again), and, of course, a magical, powerful sword. But what's truly great about this book is that it's not ABOUT all those elements--they just happen to make the story more enjoyable to read." (read more...)
A Dark Feathered Art: "It’s quite an intelligent book, and Helen being a poet means that it sings beautifully too. " (read more...)
The Puck in the Midden: "Thornspell is compelling, but it’s not fresh and new. The writing is good, and the story moves, but it lacks teeth." (read more...)
Author Interview at Tim Jones: Books in the Trees
- Reading level: Ages 9-12
- Library Binding: 320 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 9, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 037595581X
- ISBN-13: 978-0375955815
- Source: Review copy from publisher