Thursday, April 19, 2007

I, Coriander

By Sally Gardner. Found from olmue.

Disclaimer: I need to stop reading so late. I suspect what I think I'm reading may not be what's actually on the page at those hours. So, this review is a little suspect.

I thought this book was magical, but like Ceres Storm, it seemed to me that the heroine was mostly swept along in the course of events. Part of what Gardner does well is the historical setting: it seems realistic without getting dry or being unrelated to the story... the Puritan movement, especially, plays an important part. I also liked the way she treated Christianity: despite the existence of evil preachers and militant Puritans, Coriander still respects Christ and, in fact, this theme is part of a moving scene near the end.

So: the bad part. Most of the characters seem pretty flat. Even those who play an important role, such as Medlar or Hester, we hear little about. It may be that I unfairly judge Hester and that she is merely weak, not flat, but despite her relationship to Coriander (Hester is her stepsister), I don't feel like I have a good picture of who Hester is or what she cares about. She is submissive, to say the least. It feels as if the excellent relationship that Coriander says she has with Hester is told to us, instead of shown. And about Medlar we read almost nothing: despite the importance he plays in the plot, very little is revealed about his personal history or motivations. The same seems to apply to Tycho, and even more to all the villains, who have no depth at all.

This is a good book, but at the same time it's sad because it seems like it could have been quite a bit better. Still, I think it's worth reading, especially if you like fairy tales.

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