Helen Lowe

Random House Books for Children
Trade Paperback/320 pages
ISBN: 037595581X
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". . .a thrilling read . . ."

Award-winning poet Helen Lowe’s first novel, Thornspell, is a poetically and dramatically rich fairy tale. Her magical suspense story parallels the German epic poem and opera Parsifal, a man’s search for the Holy Grail, as well as the film Sleeping Beauty. It is an imaginative story with distinctive and complex plots and extraordinary characters.

Sequestered within the castle walls for his own protection, young Prince Sigismund spends his time daydreaming about the enchanted world of King Arthur’s knights, unaware that soon he will embark on a quest of his own. As the prince approaches his eighteenth birthday, a carriage with the evil fairy (faie) Margravine zu Malovlin arrives at the castle gates. She attempts to entrap the prince. This bold move prompts the King to assign Balistan, master-at-arms, to prepare his son for the inevitable. The prince discovers with meditation and interpretation of dreams his own magical powers.

The prince learns that Margravine placed an evil spell a hundred years ago on a kingdom in the Wood where a princess remains asleep. Sigismund, a true-blood prince, is the only one who can rescue the sleeping princess and her family. If Margravine can control Sigismund, she will have a power over both the fairy and mortal world. Sigismund goes against Margravine’s strong magic. He discovers his own strength, and with the help of a magic sword, Quickthorn (like King Arthur’s Excalibur), he is able to escape Margravine’s control and lift the spell.

Lowe suspends the reader’s reality and thrusts us into an imaginary world with vivid descriptions and lyrical language such as the final confrontation. Sigismund sees Margravine floating in the air, “her hair streaming out like a banner and billowing into the growing storm. Shadows flared on either side of her like the batwings he remembered, and the clouds rolled close, dark as nightfall with lightening at their heart.”

This young readers book is a thrilling read. Like the story of Parsifal, it conveys messages of compassion and honor.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla