Sally Gardner is a British writer, who writes for all ages and all tastes. I rarely share author’s website, but this is a beautiful site and there’s a beautiful story about Sally’s own reading and writing experience. And you would never believe that that is her story after you see all the books she has written.
I, Coriander was her debut novel and in 2005 it received Nestle Children’s Book Prize.
The book is set in England, around the times of Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and Charles II and novel’s protagonist is a young girl – Coriander, who is born in a loving family, but very early in her life has it taken away form her. Coriander learns about magical abilities she has inherited from her mother, who died before she could explain them to her daughter, so now Coriander tries to set things right in both her world that is crumbling apart and the fairy world she never knew existed.
This book started so intriguing that in my mind I compared it to Harry Potter. It was indeed full of adventure, magic and mystical things, just like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone. Yet, the novel didn’t really go through with that feel and left a feeling that this could have been a gem, that unfortunately wasn’t polished well enough.
The read was easy and fast, as well as intriguing, but at some point while reading the book I suddenly felt lost. It was like I would have fallen asleep and woken up to realise that I don’t remember some crucial explanations or mentioning of magical abilities, people or objects. I really sometimes felt like it was my fault – that I missed something, but as the flaws in my knowledge grew, I realised that those were flaws in the world building.
It was really sad that the book wasn’t as awesome all through, as it seemed when I started it. It’s a pity, because I can imagine it becoming a book I would reread many times, yet, it wasn’t quite good enough for that.
But that doesn’t mean that I think that it would be a terrible read. No, I think that it would still be good for kids. It was slightly terrifying (but so are also Harry Potter’s), but I think that kids wouldn’t notice the flaws in how magic works or the abilities that were mentioned and then never used again, and because they wouldn’t notice it, kids might like it.
The language suited the century well and gave off a bit of a Pride and Prejudice vibe (and I later read that the first book the author read was by Jane Austin, so, perhaps there was some influence?) and was generally nice. It was also a great way to show history without really pushing it into my face, which could give some good background knowledge that kids would later remember without knowing where that knowledge came from.
Overall I think it was a nice and magical book. I didn’t really love it, in fact I couldn’t decide, if I should give it two or three stars (gave it two at the end), but nevertheless I am happy that I read it, because it showed me a new world that perhaps wasn’t explored enough (or at all), but gave place for my fantasy to explore it and gave the anticipating feeling at least for a moment, when I wanted to know what will happen next.
Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on I, Coriander. Let me know in the comments bellow, if you have read the book and what did you think of the world building, magic and skills that were shown, but never used again, I’m anxious to know, if I was the only one, who felt like being woken up, when suddenly everything was happening in this book.