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Ariel    by Grace Tiffany order for
by Grace Tiffany
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTempest, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Ariel sprung from the dream of a shipwrecked sailor (Jasper). Ariel is beautiful, transparent but shimmery with colors of the rainbow. After Jasper died, Ariel possessed the 'white cove', and was confined within its Triangle. The edges became known centuries later as Bermuda, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Ariel created, with three minions to serve her: Acrazia, Nous, and Fantasia, made from flowers of the rain forest. From her cove, Ariel was drawn to the beating of drums in the distance, but she could not travel from the Triangle.

Ariel waited for a man to come from the east, but a flaxen-haired woman came instead, one Ariel had seen in Jasper's dreams eight centuries before. Sycoraxo tells of her captivity by Vikings. In the pains of childbirth, she calls out to Ariel, who promised to assist. But, Ariel is from the dark side, a liar who changes forms (including an owl, a crow, a pixy, and an angel with wings of gossamer). Ariel can enter minds, reading what's there and twisting their thoughts. In childbirth, Sycorax calls to her god Sebetos, and she curses Ariel, turning the spirit smaller and smaller until Ariel becomes an ant entrapped in a gumbo-limbo tree. Sycorax names her baby Caliban after her brother. Against his mother's wishes, Caliban goes to the tree, where Ariel whispers lies - that Sycorax is a witch, and his real mother is on another part of the island. Young Caliban does Ariel's bidding, but later realizes she is a deceiver. In his grief, Caliban lives as a recluse in the jungle.

From the east, Duke Prospero and his daughter Miranda drift into the cove. Prospero can read Ariel's mind, recognizing that she, in turn, can alter others. Prospero seeks revenge on his brother Antonio who betrayed him. Ariel offers to help, after Prospero frees her from the tree where she was trapped for seven years. Caliban returns to the cove and becomes Miranda's playmate and a slave to Prospero. Ariel speaks to Prospero of travelling to the other side of the island, thence to rule the entire island. Together they plot a dark and wild tempest. Prospero speaks, 'Tempest and lightning and storm and humiliation for my brother, and oh, yes, the greatest revenge of all: not just ... Antonio's death but the marriage of my daughter to the son of Alonso, king of Naples.' Ariel casts a powerful breeze to the sea, turning the sky black, 'Forth went her three spirits as lightning and hailstones and rain ... Ariel pulled the vessel with its terrified sailors into the Triangle.'

Grace Tiffany re-tells Shakespeare's famed play, The Tempest, in lyrical prose. Ariel is given a pernicious character and Prospero is bewitched by her. I was enthralled with the story. The author is a Shakespeare scholar and has written previous novels. Ariel is her first for younger readers and I recommend it highly.

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