Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Prospero's Children by Jan Siegel

The Fern Capel series: Prospero's Children, 1999; The Dragon Charmer, 2000; The Witch's Honour, 2002

I found this series of books by chance when I took The Greenstone Grail (Amanda Hemingway) out of the library. On opening it, I found that the author had written an earlier book, Prospero's Children, under a different name, Jan Siegel. "Aah," I thought, "I've read that - in fact, not only have I read it, I think I know where there is a copy." Once found, it went straight onto the pile for a re-read. At the same time, a Google search told me that there were two sequels, as there are with The Greenstone Grail. By now happily engrossed in the latter, and with the prospect of further additions to the bookshelves, I was rather pleased.

In the first of the three books, Prospero's Children, Fern Capel and her brother Will accompany their father to Yorkshire to look at a house that has been left to them by an elderly cousin. Although Fern, who has been "managing" her father since her mother's death, regards the house as too cold and impractical to keep, it nonetheless exercises an odd compulsion which makes them return, this time with their father's girlfriend, Alison, whom Fern deems unsuitable for her father. It soon becomes clear that Alison is there for her own ends; not only a witch, she is also under the sway of an Old Spirit, Azmordis, who speaks to her through a stone statue in the house, and she is using the Gift - her magical powers - to search for the key to the Gate of Death, which she means to open. In so doing she inadvertently opens the door to the lost land of Atlantis, dying in the process. Only Fern now has the Gift and can go to Atlantis to find the key and close the door.