Adventures in Reading

Fiction: Colman by Monica Furlong
September 21, 2008, 11:02 am
Filed under: book reviews, fiction | Tags: , , , ,

“Four of us escaped on Finbar’s ship after Juniper’s trial as a witch–Juniper, Wise Child, Corman, and me.”

Concluding Monica Furlong’s trilogy, Colman continues the story of Wise Child through the eyes of Colman, Wise Child’s cousin. Upon returning to Juniper’s homeland, the cast of characters are confronted with an impoverished population being brutalized by Juniper’s nemesis from Juniper. Though only children, Colman and Wise Child are called upon to perform tasks that will help reestablish Juniper’s home to its former glory and ensure that Juniper’s brother is crowned king.

I didn’t care for Colman nearly as much as I did for Juniper and Wise Child. While it does a great job concluding the trilogy overall, I wasn’t taken with Colman as a narrator and found him to be rather tedious. I’ve not read enough of Furlong to really comment, but she seems to be more comfortable writing in a female rather than a male voice. It’s a worthwhile book for any fan of the trilogy, but I left it feeling less satisfied than I had with the previous two.

Conclusion: Returned to library.


Fiction: Juniper by Monica Furlong
September 18, 2008, 11:52 am
Filed under: book reviews, fiction | Tags: , , , , ,

“The night I was born, according to my nurse, Erith, was a night of black frost and dense darkness in a bitter January.”

Juniper is the prequel to Monica Furlong’s book Wise Child and tells the story of Juniper, Wise Child’s mentor and local doran (or witch/shaman/healer), who was a princess turned doran. Juniper is born into a life of wealth and privilege but during her adolescents she leaves this world for the environment of her godmother Euny. Euny, also a doran, trains Juniper who ultimately returns to her kingdom to heal it and to find her own power.

Part of my enjoyment of reading Monica Furlong’s books is Furlong herself. Though now deceased, she had a fascinating life. Juniper is an interesting read exploring certain thematic issues of jealousy and power, and particularly when these pertain to the place of women within this world. Juniper’s aunt, happens to be an enchantress (e.g. one of the bad guys), but we learn that her aunt (as well as Juniper) are displaced as rightful heirs to the throne because of the birth of a male child. Juniper is a lovely book and I’m excited to start reading Colman the sequel to Wise Child.

Conclusion: Returned to library.

Revisted: The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

The first in the addictive and adorable Sisters Grimm series, The Fairy-Tale Detectives provides the “abandoned” background of the sisters, how they wound up with their grandmother, their discovery of the fairy-tale characters, and all playing out while a giant is on the loose. Part of my growing warmth for the series is in response to a children’s book offering some great female leads and particularly within the sci-fi/fantasy genre. An excellent series for anyone who has loved “fairy tales.”

I definitely have a hang up on finding fun, warm, intelligent, though imperfect female characters in children’s and young adult’s books. I was discussing at work yesterday that I think I read less when I was a child than I really thought I did and especially once I hit the junior high years. I don’t think this had anything to do with lack of encouragement (my mother was a librarian for some years). In retrospect, I wonder if I just had a difficult time finding books with protagonists I identified with (something oddly enough I don’t care about in my adult reading). After all, a girl can only read Harriet the Spy so many times.

And also reviewed at Beyond Books and Book Nut.