Review Blog

Dec 04 2007

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

cover image

Orion Children's Books, 2006

Always intrigued with historical novels, this was a revelation, as it mixes fantasy with an historic setting, which is a current trend, many fantasy authors using known settings from the past to set their story. So we have I, Coriander, set in the time of Oliver Cromwell, in London.

Coriander's mother dies in mysterious circumstances, and her father, beset by grief, is persuaded to look for another wife to ensure that his household is not targeted by the Puritans. The woman he chooses turns out not to be what he had hoped for, and bringing her strange preacher into the house with her, turns Coriander into a simpering girl called Ann. Shut into a chest for misbehaviour, Coriander goes to a different world, the one her mother came from, and here learns how to confront the woman in her house.

The stunning story is made more brilliant with the setting of the times. People can be denounced without reason, their house and property taken, or accused of witchcraft if they happen to be a helper in times of illness. The times are portrayed exceptionally well, with the spectre of fear around every corner. A wonderful story, detailed with real historic events and people, this should appeal to middle school girls looking for an adventure with events turning about a highly original and endearing character. (11+)
Fran Knight

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