Monday, June 21, 2010

SF/F: The Wildkin’s Curse by Kate Forsyth

The Wildkin’s Curse (Macmillan) a so-called “companion volume” to The Starthorn Tree, can be read as a stand-alone story, though it takes place some years later.

The novel is set in a world in which there are different types of people -- the aristocratic starkin, the lower-class hearthkin and the wildkin, who are more or less human, but with an elvish feel about them -- pointed ears and magical abilities. There are faerie-type beings in the forests and the air, who are associated with the wildkin.

In the first novel, a group of teenagers set off on a quest to rescue the brother of one of the characters, who was in an enchanted sleep. This time, the children of those characters are on a quest to free wildkin Princess Rozalina, whose starkin father is keeping her locked up in a tower and has plans for her. The fate of the entire country depends on what they do -- but Princess Rozalina is dangerous, though not intentionally. Her prophecies always come to pass. Always.

Kate Forsyth is the author of a large number of award-winning children’s fantasy novels and it’s not hard to see why they won prizes. She creates characters you can care about. I don’t generally enjoy quest novels, but this one is not about an elf, a long-lost prince, a bad-tempered dwarf and a couple of bickering warriors going after a magical object. The characters are human. They love and hate, they get tired and cold and hungry.

Forsyth has also worked carefully on her cultures and background. The society is a strange mixture of Middle Ages and 18th century France. She uses whatever bit of history is convenient for her story. Somehow, it works. And it works, also, as a cracking good adventure. ◊

Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians behaving Badly, and, most recently, YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog The Great Raven, can be found at

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