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Prospero's Children    by Jan Siegel order for
Prospero's Children
by Jan Siegel
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2001 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

Prospero's Children is the story of Fernanda Capel, a down-to-earth sixteen-year-old, accustomed to ruling with an iron hand the vagaries of her younger brother Will, and the irresolution of her widowed father Robin. He inherits a house in Yorkshire from a distant relative, the seafaring Ned Capel. When they visit it, Fernanda is drawn into a maelstrom of magic - relatively benign in the persons of Ragginbone the Watcher and Laugarry the wolf; and totally evil in the persons of Alison (Alimond), and the spirit inhabiting both Javier and the ugly stone idol in the living room.

All, including Fernanda and her brother, are searching for a very special key, brought up by a mermaid from the depths of the sea. It was used once upon a time to unlock a Door in Atlantis into another universe, which resulted in the total destruction of Atlantis. The key is found, and lost again, and Fernanda must make the journey back in time to Atlantis to find the key and lock the Door, which should never have been opened. She knows that, once locked, it will be impossible for her to return to her own time.

This is truly a magical story, written with a very sure hand, powerful and vivid, using an unfettered, lyrical imagination. The author has a gift for the lucid phrase, which tends to resonate in memory ... 'For such is the essence of human nature: from the moment Lucifer rebelled, we have known him for one of us'. From London to the moors of Yorkshire, to the lost city of Atlantis, Fernanda moves through her many adventures, changing and developing in totally believable ways as she matures. The book is the first in a trilogy, and I look forward eagerly to meeting Fernanda again, and again.

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