I, Coriander – review

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner (link goes to Amazon)

During the mid 1600s, we’re introduced to a little red-headed girl named Coriander, whose father is a wealthy merchant and mother is an apothecarian/witch (because this is the 17th century and any woman who is deemed smart is an evil hag). They live a pretty care-free life, but then the mother becomes ill and dies, the father is thrown into an almost maddening depression and is informed by a close family friend that he needs to marry a Good Puritan Woman because he is seen as a Royalist and Oliver Cromwell wants his head.

Yes, historical fiction. I enjoy historical fiction, but this is a fantasy-driven historical fiction piece, so it’s a bit more…surreal.

The father marries a horrible lady, who brings a cowering daughter and an evil little man who pretends to be a preacher. The father runs off because there’s a warrant for his arrest, and the preacher locks Coriander in a trunk. She somehow arrives into a different world (believed to be more of the Faery world, but it is never outright stated as such), meets a cooky old man who is actually responsible for her parents getting together, and somehow thwarts a royal marriage which screws the prince (he gets turned into a fox and hunted for fun) and she ends up back in the trunk.

So, approximately a day has passed that Coriander is aware of, but she’s been “locked” in the trunk for three years. She learns she must find her mother’s shadow, which was hidden in an ebony box by her father, to save the prince (the fox) and all will be better.

The time-frames on this are…really confusing. When Coriander ends up in the Faery-realm the first time, she spends about…maybe a day, day and half there. Maybe two at the most since she falls asleep and the scenery changes a bit.When she comes back to her world, she’s been gone three years. But, when she goes back the second time, she spends approximately a day, day and a half there again, yet when she goes back to her world, she’s been gone a year and a half

There is a mention on how the time is different for both worlds, but shouldn’t they be more consistent? There were a couple errors that look like the author had written the scene four or so times and forgot to switch words or take something out and it was missed because reading it, the brain automatically puts it to how it makes sense. There’s one where I read it and stopped from continuing to re-read the line.

Wow, I just put “there” as the beginning of every sentence in that paragraph. Way to go Manders.

One thing that really irked me was that at the end of every “part” (there are…five parts to the book), it mentions extinguishing a candle because it’s the end of that part of her life, story, or somesuch. It got old really fast, so I skipped those two sentences every time they showed up. But, I did enjoy the sketches that show up in the book itself, it’s very reminiscent of Edward Gorey.

This is a 1st person POV novel, which can be hard to pull off (not as hard as 2nd person present POV) but the author did pretty well with this one. In the beginning, it’s mainly rose-coloured 17th century, by the middle it’s fantasy-adventure, and then by the end my brain screamed “Oh my gods, I am reading the 12-year-old version of a Harlequin novel.” and “Wrong! Historically wrong!” with the whole thing with Coriander putting her foot down and telling her father she did not want to marry this ponce of a kid. But, hey, it’s a fantasy novel and if it’s historical fantasy, how many people are going to read it and know certain aspects of that part of history? (unless they’re weird like me)

Then we hit the end, and I feel that the end could…have been explained a little more. How in the hell does he get to Corianders world? He wasn’t supposed to be able to. Did I miss something?

Overall, decent read, not too bad of a novel. I may or may not read this again, and if I find someone who wants to read this, they can have my copy (hardback, almost perfect condition. currently lives in a house with cats and dogs). I may attempt to read another story by the author, which is great. At least this book did not land in the level of “A Winter Haunting” by Dan Simmons. (it’s in that level of “ye gods, why?!” And I think we gave it to someone else)


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