Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lilliput by Sam Gayton

Sam Gayton’s novel Lilliputinspired by Jonathan Swift's Gulliver’s Travels, tells the story of Lily: a three inch girl fighting to escape from a birdcage in the human world of 18th century London and return to her own faraway home of Lilliput. All her misfortunes begin with Gulliver, who is now an embittered old man tired of being ridiculed for his outlandish stories. Desperate to prove he is not a crazy liar, Gulliver kidnaps Lily with the intent to show her to the world once he has finished his grand manuscript about his journeys. Despite her tiny height, Lily constantly tries to escape as she knows her time is running out as Lilliputians count their lives by moons, not years. She is soon aided in her escape by the orphan Finn, an apprentice of the cruel clockmaker Mr. Plinker. Lily frees Finn from a perfidious wrist watch that counts wasted seconds instead of time and constricts ever tighter if he is not continuously working. But even free they must find a way to outwit Gulliver and Mr. Plinker together, or fall captive again forever. I loved the ending of the story because it was true to the price and bravery of growing up; sometimes, even best friends must say goodbye and trust their hearts are shared across the miles.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

With fairy tales it’s sometimes easy to gloss over the horror and consequences of selfish human actions with a bit of magic and a happy ending. Not so in Merrie Haskell’s story, The Castle Behind Thorns. When the young boy Sand mysteriously wakes up in a ruined castle surrounded by vicious thorns, he can only survive by mending what is broken. For everything from blades of straw, buckets, anvils, coins and even the holy relic of a saint’s heart is split in two, as if by a curse. 

*Warning: next paragraph contains spoilers.

But shortly after he returns the dead body of a young girl to her tomb, Perrotte awakens to life once more with a terrible memory; her own murder several decades ago at the hand of her stepmother—and Sand’s father. Their budding friendship and desire to escape the thorny prison confining them to the castle is overshadowed by Perrotte’s desire for revenge on her stepmother, and the secret she is keeping from Sand about his father’s sin. But as the thorny barrier slowly shrinks and the miracle of Perrote’s return from the dead spreads, armies mass for lost gold and the families of both children confront them at the castle. Sand and Perrotte must decide which path to follow: the thorny road of vengeance and hate, or forgiveness and new life. This Sleeping Beauty tale is full of darkest human fears—and hope, utterly lost, then made flesh again in bone and blood.