Thursday 21 August 2008

Kandide and the Secret of the Mists by Diana S. Zimmerman. Illustrated by Maxine Gadd

secretmists.jpgPublished by Noesis Publishing

The kingdom of Calabiyau is in turmoil. King Toeyad, ruler of the Fée kingdom, is dead. Next in line is his eldest daughter Kandide who has been prepared for her special role as Queen – and Keeper of the Gift - since birth. Unfortunately, being constantly reminded of how important she is has led to Kandide being spoiled, willful, and incredibly vain. To be fair, her vanity is valid as no finer, more perfect creature can be found anywhere.

While preparing for her upcoming crowning ceremony, Kandide suffers a tragic accident and suddenly her worst fears become a reality. Mercilessly cast aside by her mother, she is banished to a dark and dangerous land where all Imperfects are left to survive – or die, as they will. Kandide has always detested and feared Imperfects. Now she must face and co-exist with them, and harder still, she must accept her own future as one of them.

Back in Calabiyau, Kandide’s family has problems of their own. The high council is demanding to know the location of Kandide – and the Gift, on which life itself depends. Now Kandide’s siblings must go seek their banished sister and return within three days. The very life of their mother is dependant upon their success. With their mother’s enemy, the fiery Lady Aron, working against them, can the family survive?

Okay, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this book. I was hooked and literally couldn’t put it down from start to finish and on reaching the last page, I was eager for the story to continue. Now I can’t wait for the second and third installments of this series. I have read many fantasy novels and of those, many have contained faeries and magic but none have ever moved me in the way this did. This is not simply a faery tale or a tale of magic. This is not even just a tale of good against evil. This is a story which is inspirational, teaches patience, tolerance, acceptance and perhaps most important of all, it teaches the important lesson of beauty being much more than skin deep. This is a tale that all children should read but I think for the adults it is a superb choice too. It certainly spoke to the inner child in me. The simply stunning artwork by Maxine Gadd made me love this book even more. My favourite illustrations in this book are Tara, and Lady Aron (both viewable here)

Fantastic read. I saw on the website that someone had said that after reading Harry Potter they had wondered if a series of books ever knock them off their feet again. The same person said they found that the Calabiyau Chronicles did just that and I find myself agreeing. I love Kandide’s world and I don’t think I could ever get tired of reading about it. I think what I loved too, was that after reading the book, I went to check out the site and it’s an online playground and wealth of information regarding the series and characters so you can learn even more. I loved the character biographies (which are also in the back of the book).

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