I just finished reading The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth, and it was AWESOME!
I haven’t been swept away by a book like that in ages (not counting The Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband). I love books that really show the author knows what he or she is writing about. When the author is a passionate word lover and is writing on a topic of particular passion it just brings an extra depth to the work that cannot be faked.
I know that at some stage Kate and her family lived and travelled around Scotland for a year in order to research one of her novels. I am not 100% sure it was for The Puzzle Ring but it would make sense because the countryside, characters, events, just everything read so authentically. I have lived in the UK and spent time in Edinburgh and around Carlisle, and can honestly say Kate’s representation is superb.
The four main characters are all really well-formed and each bring their own special dimension to the story. In the way that JK Rowling makes you know and love everything about her characters (even Malfoy in his own “good, but deeply horrible” way) the reader knows that Forsyth has created real and credible characters. You will laugh, cry and get totally freaked out along with Hannah and her friends.
And speaking of freaked out – wow! There are some really scary scenes in this book. The characters are 12-13 years old, and I know our young teens can cope with it, probably better than I can, but I was reading the Halloween scene in our outdoor room at night and had to run inside and ask my hubby to go back and turn the light out or the Black Witch might get me.
It’s interesting that I read The Locket of Dreams over the holiday period, written by Belinda Murrell who is Kate Forsyth’s sister. Both books have similar themes, but have treated the stories and characters so differently. The Locket of Dreams in many ways reminded me of Jackie French’s writing (ie The Day they Stormed Eureka) having parallel storylines and what appears to be the main story is actually a way for the lead character to come to terms with what is happening to her in her waking hours.
The Puzzle Ring is different. The apparently non-magical aspects of Hannah’s life are not really that common and in this way the reader is not intended to relate this to their own life. While The Locket of Dreams is an uplifting story of courage and survival, The Puzzle Ring is high adventure.