Author: Steve Augarde
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Celandine is the sequel to The Various, a book I haven’t read. If Celandine is an indicator, I’m long overdue to read it because this book was marvelous.
Celandine is a young girl living in England during World War I. Her brother has been killed and she is devastated by the loss. Celandine’s story begins with her running away from her horrible boarding school and heading for the secret hiding place of the Various, tiny creatures that live in the bramble near her home. She turns to them for safety but all is not well with the different tribes, they are nearing a war of their own and have other problems as well.
The book flashes back to what led Celandine to be sent away to boarding school, how she came to know the little people and a bit about her family and the feeling of the time. It’s a rich story and the intersecting of all these stories is sublime. I loved it. Celandine reminds me of stories like The Little Princess or The Secret Garden with elements of fairy and fantasy intertwined. Steve Augarde’s Various aren’t so magical though, rather they are tiny, desperate but kind creatures struggling with hunger and poverty as they’ve been pushed farther and farther back into the bramble as the modern world encroaches.
Celandine is a rich and interesting character as well. As the back story progresses, we get to know her loneliness, her feeling out of place with her wild hair, her Austrian mother, the governess that is hostile towards her. We share her angst, her desperation. One of the most moving parts of the book for me was her realization that by feeding her, the ragged children of the Various were going without. Her determination to help them and not be a drain is admirable and I saw in that written moment, Celandine grew up.
I can’t wait to read The Various after this!
Celandine is a great book for that pre-teen girl who is struggling with her own identity crisis. I think readers of all ages will identify with her and more importantly, understand her. It’s a great book and one of those stories that is timeless.