Sunday, August 7, 2011


A review featuring Bit (Bibliophile in Training), Age 6

For numerous reasons it took Bit and I forever to finish our most recent read aloud, Thornspell by Helen Lowe.  We had two more chapters to go as of yesterday afternoon and Bit really wanted to finish it so I let her stay up late last night and we did.  Here are our thoughts on this retelling of "Sleeping Beauty".

First off, I like the cover.  Very pretty.

The Story
As a boy, Prince Sigismund longs for adventure and something interesting to happen in his life. He lives sequestered in an obscure castle at the edge of a mysterious wood his great grandfather placed an interdict over. When a mysterious encounter causes Sigismund to fall ill his father sends him a master-at-arms to train and guard him. Suddenly Sigismund's life is not so boring anymore and he discovers that he is a pivotal player in a web of magic spun by two powerful Faeries nearly one hundred years previously involving the mysterious wood and an enchanted princess. But Sigismund is no pawn and through the training of his new companion discovers he posses a powerful magic of his own. This is a valuable asset as the success or failure of his quest will determine the fates of both the mortal and the Fae worlds.

Bit's Thoughts
I like Prince Sigismund and how he uses his mind to protect his friends.  Some of the book was a little boring but there were many exciting parts.  My favorite parts were the ones with Rue.  I really liked when Sigismund and Rue escaped from the fairy hill.  I liked the end.  There are a couple of really good surprises. 

My Thoughts
I originally read this myself over a year ago.  I enjoyed it mostly because of the unique point of view.  It is rare to find a fairy tale retelling done completely from the point of view of the prince.  (In fact I can't think of any others).  Added to that, Helen Lowe created a story combining the original tale, Arthurian legend, Faerie myth and eastern dragon lore.  I really enjoyed all of the characters particularly Balisan, the master at arms.  If you are a person who enjoys fairy tale retellings this is one of the better ones I've read.  Reading it aloud was a bit of a challenge.  I didn't realize when I read it the first time how descriptive the prose was or how introspective Sigismund was.  This is why Bit felt parts of it were boring.   There are long stretches where there is little action and a lot of Sigismund thinking.  Once you get to the last third of the book though it is hard to stop reading.

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