Review Blog

Mar 23 2011

Crown of acorns by Catherine Fisher

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Hodder Children's Books, 2010. ISBN 9780340970072.
(Age 14+) Recommended. Three stories weave their way in this fascinating mystery by Catherine Fisher. A 17 year-old girl has arrived anonymously in Bath. Giving herself a new name, Sulis, she goes to stay with a new foster family, but lives in fear of being discovered by a mystery man from her past. A parallel story in the 18th century tells of Zac, the teenage apprentice to architect Jonathan Forrest, who dreams of building a circle of houses based on druidic principles. Working only because his father has gambled away their family fortune, Zac is destructive and consumed with envy. Then there is the voice of Bladud, a mythical figure, who has been cured of a leprous disease by the healing waters of the sacred spring of Sulis.
Fisher gradually builds up the suspense around the teen, Sulis, who is convinced that someone is following her. She is very frightened and I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding her fear, never being sure if she was delusional or actually was being stalked by the person who murdered her young friend. There is suspense too in the relationship between Zac and his employer, Forrest, and I was kept on the edge of my seat, hoping that Forrest's great architectural dreams would be fulfilled and not foiled by Zac's mean machinations.
It was interesting that one of the main protagonists, Zac, is not an attractive character at all and this added spice to the story. However, Josh, Sulis' co-worker is a wonderful caring person and her foster parents are portrayed very sympathetically.
The magical setting, Bath, will enthral anyone who has ever visited that wonderful city with its golden stone. Those who are new to the setting will long to visit it. An afterword by Fisher gives information about John Wood, architect of the King's Circle in Bath.
Pat Pledger
Editor's note: Crown of acorns is on the CILIP Carnegie Medal longlist, 2011.

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