Kate Forsyth

Pan (2010)

ISBN: 978 0 330 42605 3

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Zed is a starkin lord, heir to the Castle of Estelliana. Merry is of hearthkin heritage, son of a rebel leader with more to his history than he knows. Liliana is wilkin, just coming into her uncanny magical powers. Thrown together by destiny, the three are fated to journey together to try to rescue a wildkin princess from her lifelong imprisonment by the starkin king. But are their fates truly what they think they are? Can prophecies really come true or be thwarted by human intervention?

Forsyth is an accomplished author – her worlds are well realised and intricately drawn and her characters have hidden depths. This book is a delight to read, although it does seem to start rather slowly, which is, I think, a problem of establishing the connection with its companion book, The Starthorn Tree. Once we become fully immersed in the story though, it sweeps along at a mighty pace, ripping through a clever and involving plot with enough twists and turns to keep even the adult reader guessing.

The three main characters are entertaining and full of surprises – the interplay between the two boys are oftimes fun and very Australian in feel (although the only Australian thing about the book is the nationality of the author!). I’m not sure they act their ages successfully, and they seem to mature very rapidly over the course of the book. This is likely an intentional move on the part of the writer, but it sometimes felt a bit rushed. In fact, the pacing of the book overall didn’t quite work for me – as I said above, a little slow to start, and while the middle worked well, the ending felt hurried. I was actually looking for more at the end.

This book is set up as a standalone novel; a reading of it’s companion book The Starthorn Tree would not go astray but is not essential to a full enjoyment of this tale. However, I do hope Forsyth returns again to this world because there’s a lot more I want to know – The Wildkin’s Curse ended well, but certainly leaves the way open for more in the future!