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I, Coriander

I, Coriander          
Sally Gardner
September 2005
Orion Children's
                         300 pages


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"I have lit the first of seven candles
      to write my story by..."


       Coriander Hobie is living quite the charmed life in Cromwellian London.
       She has loving parents and an adoring housemaid and friends. Her riverside
       home is festooned with rare and precious trinkets and artefacts, and her
       head is full of tales and magic that keeps her family apart from the uproar
       and disorder that is spreading through society. Coriander is not a
       spoilt girl. Just lucky. Very, very lucky. Because these rare things can
       be taken away just as quickly as they are given. Because fate can turn
       on the simplest of things, like a new pair of shoes.

       In the space of seven candles, Coriander tells of how she lost everything
       that was dear to her. She tells us how those shoes were gifted to her,
       how the puritanical Maud and Arise Fell squirmed their way into her life,
       and how through black magic and misdeed, she found herself locked
       inside a chest and left for dead. Which was when she entered another
       worlde altogether....      


» "I, Coriander" won the Nestle Book Prize for 9-11s 2005  «


       The Gnome says

       This book found its way into shops rather surreptitiously. There it was
       tucked away in the local "Ottaker's" with no fuss or fanfare. Just a book,
       with an understated cover hinting at its historical content. And on the reverse,
       something about some silver shoes. So what was it, an historical piece,
       a Dickensian tale...?

       Oh there's history, all right. Walking talking history that leaps off the pages,
       clings to your shoes and rings in your ears. There's Dickens here too. Great
       greedy handfuls of Dicrckensian characters who'll slap your face and hug
       you better in the same paragraph.

       And there's magic. Dark and deadly faery magic. For "I, Coriander" is in
       fact a faerytale. But one steeped in mystery and violence and grief and
       despair and love - love that shines in even the darkest of places. Like the
       very best of Dickens or Joan Aiken, we must squirm as our heroine's world
       collapses around her, and the visciously cruel Arise Fell wields his
       puritanical fists. It's a heartbreaking read. By the end of act three, our
       heroine is literally locked in a casket and sentenced to death.

       And then the story reveals the other side of its mirror. We are transported
       to a soft focus faerie land, hitherto only hinted at,  unfolding magically
       as we read on. Coriander finds love and danger in this worlde, as we learn
       of the dark force that pursues her: A witch whose malevolent hand reaches
       out of this chocolate box realm and into the heart of Olde London...

       This is a vivid tale, skilfully told. The author's at her very best in those
       opening three acts as she describes Coriander's fall from grace. This is
       painful stuff. Coriander's Mother, so elegant a creature, is suddenly torn
       away from her daughter. Ravens and hags penetrate the child's rosey
       world. And Maud and Arise Fell, characters of such monstruousness,
       bring their lashing tongues, fists and fury to bear upon her. We wince
       with every blow.

       "I, Coriander" is Sally Gardner's first novel. Previously she has created
       a number of successful picture books. Her biography tells us she
       has struggled with dsylexia through to her adult life and still struggles
       with long words even now. But it hasn't stopped her writing a classic
       faery story - one that lingers long in the memory and thoroughly deserves
       that coverted Nestle Prize. Go on. Take a chance. Let the book slip in
       to your hands next time your in your local book store. Let its dark
       magic pull you in...

       But beware the raven at your shoulder!



       No special editions here. No numbered runs, either. Just good
       old-fashioned signed copies, which were quite widely available
       when the book was first published...

"I, Coriander" - signed edition


      Buy this book

      I, Coriander                   I, Coriander 
      UK Hardback edition...        UK  Paperback edition...


      On the web

      Orion Books
      The publisher's web site...

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