Tag Archives: youth literature

The Gilded Mirror: Constantinople by Jocelyn Murray

The Gilded Mirror: Constantinople (#3)The Gilded Mirror: Constantinople by Jocelyn Murray

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 the fall of Constantinople.

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 criterion, like the other books in this series, it was a bit of a tough sell. My 8 and 14-year-old have been somewhat dubious. The elder seems to reject it on the basis that it is rather a standard formula that many previous books have followed. The younger takes far too many cues from the elder and has never heard of Constantinople so it’s hard for it to get its hooks into her properly. These books have the curious property that they’re written for teens but because of the subject matter tend to appeal more directly to adults who have some sense of the history involved.

As to the second stated criterion, the content is exactly the sort of thing you’d want out of children’s literature. It’s extraordinarily educational and devoid of sex, drugs and so much of what corrupts teen novels these days. It does have a fair amount of violence but again, we’re talking about a war, so it cannot be completely sanitized.

In summary, Murray takes us on yet another educational romp through history. This is one that I’d like the kids to read but just can’t seem to make that happen no matter my best efforts. As always, she touches on an important episode from history and is so kind as to remind us that the other side of the world has history too.

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The Gilded Mirror: Corfe Castle by Jocelyn Murray

The Gilded Mirror: Corfe Castle (#1)The Gilded Mirror: Corfe Castle by Jocelyn Murray

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.

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