Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher
I am Coriander Hobie. I was born in the year of Our Lord 1643, the only child of Thomas and Eleanor Hobie, in our great house on the River Thames in London. Of my early years I remember only happiness. That was before I knew this world had such evil in it, and that my fate was to be locked up in a chest and left to die. This is my story. This is my life.
Coriander has a happy childhood living with her silk merchant father and mother who has a way with healing. But that all changes when a pair of silver shoes are mysteriously delivered. But it's years later that the finding and wearing of the silver shoes shows it's consequences. When Coriander's mother dies, her father must remarry if he wishes to keep his business and home after supporting the King. Unfortunately for Coriander her new stepmother is the of the evil variety. A stepmother who is working with a Puritan preacher and both are up to no good.
I was so incredibly excited to get sent a review copy of the anniversary edition of the book! I have very vague memories of being in like year 7 or 8, and grabbing this from the school's library to read during form time because I'd finished the book I had brought with me. I vaguely remembered the book but as it is...it's literally been 10 years since I read this so I couldn't really remember what happened and so on, I just remembered Coriander and her silver shoes.
To me this book has such Cinderella vibes with the evil step mother and the father leaving and everything, but it's the fairy world that adds a layer of enchanting, fairytale quality to this book, and an original one at that. The book was magical and really sprang to life, I so loved reading about the world Coriander's mother came from and I was eagerly waiting for the rest of the story to unfold.
I've read a couple of books set in this time period, but they where adult books and they where set during the Civil War, I haven't come across one that spans across the entire period after the Civil War up to the King returning and it was fascinating. The book must have had plenty of research go in to it as it's very authentic and you get a feel for the time period, as unfair as it was. London in this particular era comes to vivid life, it's kinda like you're Doctor Who but the book is your Tardis. I got utterly lost in the world the time and the events and the story. I could rather have done without the vivid smells, but then again it wouldn't have been as authentic without.
The story was engrossing and enchanting, you're rooting for Coriander, hating Maud and Arise and hoping they'll get their comeuppance. Those two really are characters you love to hate and they're utterly vile and the kind that you can imagine actually existing in that time, I mean there's always stories of people disappearing and being found to be murdered in that time period so it's incredibly believable. They where a right piece of work.
I was glued to the page waiting to see what would happen, would Coriander succeed? What would happen to the bad guys? Would her father come back? What's the deal with the shoes? Who was her mother really? And so on. I couldn't stop reading and devoured the book in one sitting. Coriander was such a great character, and her narrative was engaging and spot on. She had you right there with her, feeling what she felt and it was an emotional read, as some parts where quite heartbreaking, or at least they where to me. Then other parts had me feeling quite angry to be honest.
I loved the fairies in this book, I loved the echos of her mother's life and story in Coriander's own life. I loved reading about the world and how things worked and found it to be an original take to other stories involving fairies that I've read before. It added a unique touch and made the book truly magical.
It must also be said that the Authors Note is incredibly helpful and for such a concise note, has a fair bit of information in it.
I, Coriander is a fantastically written, enchanting tale with a fairytale quality and echoes of Cinderella. It will have you engrossed up until the last page, experiencing life in the times of the book, and then being taken completely out of the world to another entirely, that is written in such a way that it doesn't seem unbelievable or out of this world. I found it to be quite natural, which is strange because you know....fairies don't exist, that I know of anyway, and yet they're in this book and they seem like they belong, like they're real. It has an utterly perfect ending, and it's such a brilliant book that has a timeless quality to me. Possibly because it's not set in a modern time but ya know.