Sunday, 22 September 2013
Author: Cathryn Constable
Publisher: The Chicken House
Release Date: 6 Oct 2011
Alone in the world, Sophie dreams of being someone special, but she could never have imagined this.
On a school trip to Russia, Sophie and her two friends find themselves on the wrong train. They are rescued by the beautiful Princess Anna Volkonskaya, who takes them to her winter palace and mesmerises them with stories of lost diamonds and a tragic past. But as night falls and wolves prowl, Sophie discovers more than dreams in the crumbling palace of secrets.
Every year at work they run a 'Children's Book of the Year' event - we get given about a dozen books to read then we all get together to discuss them, an author usually appears to do a talk and then we vote for our favourite book. This is the first one I picked up off that list for this year.
I chose this one first because I liked the cover, the pages were purple and it looked pretty - shallow reasons I know, but you have to start somewhere!
Sophie Smith is at a boarding school in London, sent there by her guardian so that she is out of the way. Her parents are dead and her guardian isn't interested. She has her two friends and roommates, Delphine and Marianne by her side but she still wishes for more.
When she gets signed up to a trip to Russia with the school Sophie thinks her dreams will come true. She has always craved adventure and for some reason dreamt of the snowy magic of Russia. But when they get there Sophie and her friends end up on the wrong train and are then picked up by Anna Volkonskaya, a Princess and taken back to her palace. But it's a place of secrets and Sophie must discover the truth behind the dark corridors and ruined palace.
To be honest I found the characters pretty one dimensional, nothing really stood out or made me care about them. I didn't really connect, and I pretty much guessed the whole 'mystery' straight away so the big end reveal wasn't that breath-taking. But maybe an 8-12 year old would be swept up by it all a bit more.
The setting is described really well and is set up nicely, that is what really saved the book for me, the imagery of the Palace and woods was nice, I could picture the places and people, so I think children would be delighted with it.
It's a fairly simple, rather uncomplicated story that would be good for readers gaining confidence and wanting a bit of adventure and a sense of mystery.
I liked it more than I thought I would but it wasn't the best thing I've ever read. But I would recommend it to my book group to try.
Posted by barmybex at 22:37