My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As is usual, I received this book through some mechanism by which I didn’t actually have to pay for it. The author approached me for a review and true to that desire I give my honest opinions below.
The plot of this little novel is fairly standard escapist juvenile literature. A young girl finds a mirror and uses it to travel to another time and place and thereupon has adventures of an educational variety as she witnesses an episode from the English Civil War.
Since this is youth literature, I judge it by two basic criteria. The first centers around what age group of children would actually wish to read it and find it engaging. The second amounts to whether I would want my own children to be exposed to the content.
On the first account, this book is rather a tough sell. I have an 8 and a 14-year-old and they both turned up their noses and there wasn’t much I could say to engage their interest. Having read the book myself, it does go into some interesting tidbits of history but does take a considerable amount of time to get started. Any real action begins at page 80 of 200 leaving the text before that simply as background and local color. While this is educational, it doesn’t grab the reader from the beginning so younger perusers will likely find this initially tedious unless they have a keen interest in life during this time period.
In the area of content, this book is delightfully devoid of sex, drugs and other negative influences. There is some brief violence as a few soldiers die but this is, after all, a war we’re talking about. Educationally speaking, this book is meticulous in its coverage of a section of history we just don’t hear much about on this side of the pond. In a genre usually dominated by domestic history, it is refreshing to read from an author who remembers that the rest of the world has history too.
To summarize, like other titles by this author, Corfe Castle is delightfully educational and does dual duty as both entertainment and erudition. She brings a level of sophistication to the juvenile literature genre that’s atypical and refreshing. Unfortunately, in this case, I see a potential problem with engagement of the audience. They’ll be entertained if they hang in there long enough and learn something along the way but they’ll have get there first and that will take some doing.