I basically spent all my reading time this week finishing up Shadow Scale, the sequel to Seraphina. I’ll have a full review on the release date in March, but I will spoil you for it by saying that it lived up to the full promise of the original–and then some!
In read aloud land, we finished up The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, the Scottish writer whom CS Lewis admired so such. I was deeply moved by the story, which is fey in all the loveliest of ways. The princess Irene has a great great grandmother whom nobody else can see, and who loves and cherishes Irene like no other. The great great grandmother both protects Irene and inspires her to an act of true courage and heroism, as well as inciting the heroic journey of the miner’s son Curdie. The goblins themselves are appropriately gross and scary, and MacDonald incorporates just enough horror elements to pique the imagination, without wallowing unduly in the grotesque.
It’s been said that the hardest work in fiction is that of depicting true goodness, and I absolutely agree. But to know Irene’s great great grandmother is to love her, and yearn for her, and to believe in her absolutely. You can draw Christian parallels, and indeed I did when I discussed the book with the three middle schoolers in our homeschool coop, but it’s not an allegory. It’s a full story, rich, and exciting, and exquisitely written. And the humor even plays!
I do plan to read aloud The Princess and Curdie at some point soon. However, my 4.5 year old needs a break from the longer books so I think I’m going to choose something a little more to her scale, like the Teddy Robinson stories. My older daughter probably wants to return to ancient Greece so I have The Tale of Troy in the queue for bedtime.