Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Anna is exploring her grandmothers house that is full of antiques. She discovers an old mirror, when she wipes the surface she finds herself in Corfe Castle in the year 1643. She meets up with Elizabeth Bankes, daughter of the family that owns the castle, Elizabeth believes Anna is her cousin and gives Anna a tour of the castle and the estate. The two soon become friends.
The English Civil war comes to the castle as the Parliamentarian Roundheads surround the castle and lay it under siege. The girls help the family defend the castle, but even if Anna survives will she ever be able to get back to her own time?
The story is based on the real-life siege of Corfe Castle and the Bankes family that lived there.
Review: In full disclosure I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. The book came beautifully wrapped and made a wonderful early Christmas present, thank you Jocelyn Murray for doing that.
The first eighty pages of this book felt like a guided tour of the castle, complete with re-enactment actors. It was nice to see the world brought to life by the various characters and to see medieval times being taught in an informal, easy to follow and fun way.
The language is semi-authentic with the use of words such as "Aye", "Tis" and "O", although it doesn't go to extremes and is easy to read and understand.
The book is probably targeted at girls aged between ten and sixteen, although people outside of the target group can enjoy it as well. The writing style is fairly simplistic, but it does make it a quick and easy read and it does teach the medieval world to its audience in an easy to understand way.
There was some mild violence and one use of "William the Bastard", also known as William the Conqueror, making it unsuitable for very young readers.
The characters were well written and the main ones undergo some development despite being a fairly short book. They really bring the medieval world to life and make it seem very interesting. Although they were fairly simplistic with the enemies being a one-dimensional, pantomime villains who enjoy doing evil things and are only capable of being bad, where as the good characters only want to do good things and feel bad when they are forced to kill while defending their home.
It is also one of those stories where the children take huge risks and do things that seem unlikely. For example at one point the girls sneak out of the castle and into the enemy camp, where they steal some supplies, they are not spotted my either side.
The book is nicely presented with some illustrations and photos of the castle. I liked the front cover that has a illustration of the castle being viewed through the Gilded Mirror.
Overall I would say this was a fun and quick read, targeted at teenage girls that are interested in history, but can be enjoyed by others as well.
***1/2 plus 1/2 for wrapping the book up so nicely :)