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Internationally acclaimed author Sonya Hartnett tells a hauntingly beautiful story set during World War II. Cecily and Jeremy have been sent to live with their uncle Peregrine in the English countryside, safe from the war, along with a young refugee named May. But when Cecily and May find two mysterious boys hiding in the ruins of a nearby castle, an extraordinary adventur Internationally acclaimed author Sonya Hartnett tells a hauntingly beautiful story set during World War II. Cecily and Jeremy have been sent to live with their uncle Peregrine in the English countryside, safe from the war, along with a young refugee named May. But when Cecily and May find two mysterious boys hiding in the ruins of a nearby castle, an extraordinary adventure begins.


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Internationally acclaimed author Sonya Hartnett tells a hauntingly beautiful story set during World War II. Cecily and Jeremy have been sent to live with their uncle Peregrine in the English countryside, safe from the war, along with a young refugee named May. But when Cecily and May find two mysterious boys hiding in the ruins of a nearby castle, an extraordinary adventur Internationally acclaimed author Sonya Hartnett tells a hauntingly beautiful story set during World War II. Cecily and Jeremy have been sent to live with their uncle Peregrine in the English countryside, safe from the war, along with a young refugee named May. But when Cecily and May find two mysterious boys hiding in the ruins of a nearby castle, an extraordinary adventure begins.

30 review for The Children of the King

  1. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Gascoyne

    I so much wanted to like this, and it feels odd in a way _not_ to be in raptures about it. I can't help thinking that those who are giving this novel rapturous reviews are reviewing the book for what it is trying to be rather than for what it is. It is undeniably beautifully written, with a grave, distanced narrative voice that at times, especially early on in the novel, reminded me of no lesser personage than Virginia Woolf. The central premise is beguiling: two privileged children are evacuate I so much wanted to like this, and it feels odd in a way _not_ to be in raptures about it. I can't help thinking that those who are giving this novel rapturous reviews are reviewing the book for what it is trying to be rather than for what it is. It is undeniably beautifully written, with a grave, distanced narrative voice that at times, especially early on in the novel, reminded me of no lesser personage than Virginia Woolf. The central premise is beguiling: two privileged children are evacuated to a country estate just prior to the terrible bombing of London in WW2. At the train station, on their arrival in the country, a group of working class children is waiting for foster homes, and the youngest child persuades her mother to take one in. Their uncle, meanwhile, is preoccupied with the war and tells the children a story of other children affected by politics, warfare, human greed, and that story overlaps with their own. There is something of the atmosphere of Tom's Midnight Garden, or A Traveller in Time, but sadly none of the power, though it is affecting in many ways. It is a middle-grade novel with adult themes, and I feel it succeeds at neither. Hartnett does not give herself the luxury of exploring those themes - so much is touched on, hinted at, but nothing is fully developed. The ending is rushed, and I felt quite let down, though the final line is quite devastating. There's a certain frustration in reading something that might have been a masterpiece but just didn't quite hit the mark.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This is the third book I have read by Sonya Hartnett, and I really liked it. I really like her books. I have one big problem with them though. I don't really think they are books for children. They have themes and structures that are just too complex for children to fully grasp. This book is especially misleading. Its cover, description and characters are all about juveniles, but once I started reading it, I knew that were so many nuances in this book that a child would never truly appreciate th This is the third book I have read by Sonya Hartnett, and I really liked it. I really like her books. I have one big problem with them though. I don't really think they are books for children. They have themes and structures that are just too complex for children to fully grasp. This book is especially misleading. Its cover, description and characters are all about juveniles, but once I started reading it, I knew that were so many nuances in this book that a child would never truly appreciate them fully. The depth of the book and its complex themes: Power's indecent hold and eventual decay; the effects of loss and fear are beautifully enclosed in what would be a simple ghost story set during WWII in rural England. It was incredibly powerful and moving, and the end sucked the breath from me with its bittersweet truth. I think a tween could read this book and maybe enjoy it, but to really appreciate it for what it is, it would need to be read again as an adult, and again, and again. When I read The Silver Donkey, I remember thinking of it as a new classic. Classics are timeless and should be read over and over. Add The Children of the King to this list, and share it with children. But recommend it to their parents too, and then take a poll to find out who liked it better...

  3. 4 out of 5

    ALPHAreader

    Cecily and Jeremy Lockwood, along with their mother, are fleeing London and going to the countryside. While the city blackens itself in preparation for air raids, and newspaper headlines scream that France will fall… the Lockwood children are being whisked away to Heron Hall, to stay with their Uncle Peregrine while their father holds the fort in London. Upon arrival at the country train station, the number of children with nametags and suitcases delights twelve-year-old Cecily. She begs her moth Cecily and Jeremy Lockwood, along with their mother, are fleeing London and going to the countryside. While the city blackens itself in preparation for air raids, and newspaper headlines scream that France will fall… the Lockwood children are being whisked away to Heron Hall, to stay with their Uncle Peregrine while their father holds the fort in London. Upon arrival at the country train station, the number of children with nametags and suitcases delights twelve-year-old Cecily. She begs her mother to take home one of the evacuee children, and fourteen-year-old Jeremy agrees – though his reasons are purely patriotic, while Cecily envisions taking home a friend to amuse her at Heron Hall. Cecily chooses a black-haired girl called May Bright, who is ten-years-old and wise beyond her years. Life at Heron Hall is not at all what May is used to. There’s a cook who takes food orders, maids and grandiose bedrooms. The mansion sits on a sprawling bit of land that May enjoys exploring with Peregrine’s dog, Byron. To escape Cecily’s incessant chatter and avoid disturbing Peregrine’s important thinking work, May walks around the estate… and discovers a river, on the other side of which lays ruins. The ruins intrigue all three children, even more so when Uncle Peregrine tells them that it was once a place called Snow Castle. He assures the children that there’s a terrible tale associated with the place, a tale that is “unfit for childish ears.” Ever persistent, the children manage to coax a story in instalments out of Peregrine, about the dastardly devious story behind Snow Castle… But even as the tale is being told, the Castle holds a new fascination for Cecily and May. Two boys are hiding in the castle’s ruin, brothers who speak of spies and watching eyes… Meanwhile, Jeremy feels the valour and bravery are pulling him back to London, back to his father. As the war unfolds, he feels a sense of duty that belies his young years. ‘The Children of the King’ is a new young adult novel from popular Australian author, Sonya Hartnett. Hartnett’s book really feels like a hark back to children’s stories of long ago – very reminiscent of C.S. Lewis and Enid Blyton. The connections, for me, were in Hartnett’s masterful use of language and description – her writing is lyrical and wonderful, but not difficult (I’d say, a 12+ age-bracket readership). And even though Hartnett uses an omniscient narrator, she still gives wonderful perception and insight into each of the characters. I particularly loved Cecily – who starts out as a snobbish princess, and doesn’t precisely command likability… but as the novel progresses and Hartnett writes a sway in her character and perception, you do start cheering her on and revelling in her transformation. May Bright was an equally wonderful character, even more so for being so young – at just ten year’s of age she’s whip-quick and wise beyond her years, a thoughtful young lady with an iron-clad backbone that would be enviable in an adult, but in such a young protagonist is downright brilliant! Alarmed to find herself pulled into the discussion and, worse, made its central object, May changed the subject. ‘My father went to France,’ she offered. The statement cooled the room. ‘Your father’s a soldier?’ asked Peregrine. ‘He wasn’t before the war, but he became one.’ ‘He volunteered?’ ‘Yes, he volunteered.’ ‘France!’ said Cecily. ‘Are you very worried about him?’ ‘Of course she’s worried about him! Don’t be thick, Cecily.’ May glanced around at her adopted family, who gazed back as if she were a most exotic thing. When she spoke, it was carefully. ‘My mum says being worried can’t change what happens. It can’t make things better. So you should just live and – be happy about what’s good. That’s what I think, anyway.’ Jeremy is another incredible young character, and his journey is the most heartbreaking of all. Not to give anything away, but some of his scenes had my heart leaping into my throat – they are brilliant and tragic for the way Hartnett writes a crumbling of innocence, a confrontation of mortality courtesy of the war. In thinking that Hartnett’s story was reminiscent of Lewis and Blyton, I was half expecting the novel to take a fantastical turn. The children are thinking the same thing, though for very different reasons. May and Cecily are coming to think of Snow Castle as a mystical place, particularly when they discover two brothers camped out there and Uncle Peregrine starts telling a story that connects to Richard III (and the 'Princes in the Tower'). Jeremy, on the other hand, has delusions of war – he, like many young men his age, think of fighting as a patriotic duty and the glory of victory. Hartnett’s story had me thinking about the infamous quote from ‘Hamlet’: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. The children come to learn (as does the reader) that there are, literally, ‘more things in heaven and earth’… for all that readers, and the children, feel like there is something grand and magical lurking, they soon realize that the adventure and the tragedy is in their own lives and the past. As the war creeps into their young minds, as they are each confronted with the truth and brutality of war, they soon realize that whatever they dreamed up could not possibly match what is playing out in battlefields across Europe, and the Pacific. Equally chilling for the children is the historic 16th century murder mystery of the 'Princes in the Tower', which is more frightening than anything Uncle Peregrine could have dreamed up. Thus, ‘The Children of the King’ is part ghost story, part coming-of-age (with the loss of innocence), as we read Cecily, Jeremy and May navigate their war-torn childhood, to become a little bit wiser, and tougher. Sonya Hartnett is, without a doubt, one of Australia’s master storytellers – that title should not be bandied about lightly, and when you read a novel as hauntingly sublime as ‘The Children of the King’ you do realize it is an utterly deserved title.

  4. 5 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    Having recognized quickly who the "Children of the King" are, I was relieved to skim through the rest of this novel. Cecily is an incredibly annoying heroine and May isn't much better. The prose is stiff to the point where I assumed (because of the Lindgren award mention) that the author wrote in another language and that this is a bad translation. It isn't. Kids don't read books because of awards (unless their poor, misguided teachers force them to), they read books because they are readable and Having recognized quickly who the "Children of the King" are, I was relieved to skim through the rest of this novel. Cecily is an incredibly annoying heroine and May isn't much better. The prose is stiff to the point where I assumed (because of the Lindgren award mention) that the author wrote in another language and that this is a bad translation. It isn't. Kids don't read books because of awards (unless their poor, misguided teachers force them to), they read books because they are readable and have something to say to them. This book doesn't have those qualities and once more the book reviewers are clearly reviewing these without seeing them through the eyes of a child reader.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan Dunn

    Meh. Two children are sent from their home in London to stay with their uncle in the countryside. Along the way they pick up a girl who is among the evacuees. Once settled in their uncle's home, the two girls explore the grounds and come across the remains of an old castle. They encounter two boys who are rather rude to them, and when they ask Cecily's uncle about the castle later that day, he tells them a sad and brutal story about the tower and its inhabitants. The story within a story format Meh. Two children are sent from their home in London to stay with their uncle in the countryside. Along the way they pick up a girl who is among the evacuees. Once settled in their uncle's home, the two girls explore the grounds and come across the remains of an old castle. They encounter two boys who are rather rude to them, and when they ask Cecily's uncle about the castle later that day, he tells them a sad and brutal story about the tower and its inhabitants. The story within a story format is a bit confusing, and none of the characters are really likeable. I'll say it again - meh.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    I really didn't find this particularly good in spite of large swatches of areas where the writing was close to poetic. The nasty characters of almost everyone in the story ruined it for me. The main character, Cecily, was a spoiled, not too bright brat. Her older brother was a whiny adult wannabe, in short, your typical teen but pretty whiny. Their mother was Cecily grown up. The young evacuee they take in was a pleasant but rather bland person. The uncle had an underlying mysterious aura about I really didn't find this particularly good in spite of large swatches of areas where the writing was close to poetic. The nasty characters of almost everyone in the story ruined it for me. The main character, Cecily, was a spoiled, not too bright brat. Her older brother was a whiny adult wannabe, in short, your typical teen but pretty whiny. Their mother was Cecily grown up. The young evacuee they take in was a pleasant but rather bland person. The uncle had an underlying mysterious aura about him that made him rather interesting but not enough to compensate for the other characters. These characters seem to exist mostly to retell the Story of Richard III. Even here there were problems. The most obvious one being that the recent discovery of Richard III's skeleton where he was buried. Or perhaps dumped would be a better term. It was a adequate enough summary of the story, although I would question the attempt at the end to claim he didn't murder the Princes in the Tower. It is highly unlikely that those two boys ever left the Tower of London again. The ghost part of the story was ambiguous and really, not all that necessary and felt more like filler. If it wasn't for some excellent prose here and there, in no consistent amounts, this would have gotten 1 star. Not recommended

  7. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Sonya Hartnett writes a book as an artist paints a painting. The words go together like colour harmonies and sometimes, deliberate disharmonies. She has a quite amazing ability to observe human behaviour and misbehaviour and to capture the kernel of it in an elegant way on the page, and yet she can gleefully throw reality to the wind if it doesn't suit her composition. I found this particularly noticeable with her character Peregrine. When he is giving longer speeches, it doesn't suit Hartnett t Sonya Hartnett writes a book as an artist paints a painting. The words go together like colour harmonies and sometimes, deliberate disharmonies. She has a quite amazing ability to observe human behaviour and misbehaviour and to capture the kernel of it in an elegant way on the page, and yet she can gleefully throw reality to the wind if it doesn't suit her composition. I found this particularly noticeable with her character Peregrine. When he is giving longer speeches, it doesn't suit Hartnett to give him a natural human mode of language; instead he is poetry on legs. It's like looking at a gorgeous expressionist painting – one is aware that the lines do not describe a real human form. They are more beautiful than mere reality.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    With the fall of France and the war becoming worse for Britain, it was time for the Lockwood children, 12 year old Cecily and Jeremy, 14, to leave London. So it was off to Heron Hall, to their Uncle Peregrine Lockwood's estate, with their mother, Heloise. Traveling on the train to the same village were groups of school children also being evacuated from London by the government. These school children are taken to the town hall and as Cecily watches them leaving one by one with women who were to With the fall of France and the war becoming worse for Britain, it was time for the Lockwood children, 12 year old Cecily and Jeremy, 14, to leave London. So it was off to Heron Hall, to their Uncle Peregrine Lockwood's estate, with their mother, Heloise. Traveling on the train to the same village were groups of school children also being evacuated from London by the government. These school children are taken to the town hall and as Cecily watches them leaving one by one with women who were to care for them for the duration, she asks her mother if they couldn't also have a child. May Bright, 10, seems to fit the bill, despite her indifference towards Cecily. Feeling powerless and picked on by her brother, Cecily wants someone that she can control and have power over. But May is an independent child with a mind of her own. And though she isn't impressed that her new luxurious surroundings at Heron Hall are more than she is accustomed to, it is the vast fields and woods that attract her. And in among it all are the remains of Snow Castle, a once beautiful castle made of white marble, where she meets two young oddly dressed boys. At first, believing they are evacuees running away from an unpleasant placement, it soon becomes apparent that something else is going on with these two boys. When May and Cecily ask Uncle Peregrine about the castle, he begins to tell them, little by little each evening, the haunting story of Richard III, of his brother King Edward IV's death, of his two sons, the eldest of whom is next in line for the throne and how Richard had hidden the two boys in the Tower of London in order to make himself King. Meanwhile, Jeremy, frustrated that he can't do anything to help the war effort but hid out in the country, he wants so very much to make his mark on the world. Each day, Jeremy reads the newspaper accounts of the war, becoming more and more exasperated that he is not there help. And so one night, he runs away to London. There, he discovers a burning, war torn London that he could never have imagined. Stunned by what he sees, feeling smaller than ever, Jeremy manages to do the very thing he sets out to do - help the war effort. It is his coming of age moment and Jeremy returns to Heron Hall a very different boy. No one can turn a phrase, creating a hauntingly brilliant story quite like Sonya Hartnett can. Gracefully creating lyrical phrases, and characters that are hard to forget as you begin to recognize parts of yourself in each of them. There is spoiled, selfish Cecily, who, the reader thinks, will grow up to be just like her shallow, socialite mother, Heloise, but who surprises us so often; May, quiet and thoughtful, careful but unafraid, she becomes a favorite of Uncle Peregrine (kindred souls? maybe); Jeremy, on the cusp of becoming a young man and wanting to get there way too soon - all so realistically and captivatingly drawn. The Children of the King is the story of the powerlessness of children and the people who want to control them - of the two princes at the hands of Richard III who craves power and control, of England's children at the hands of German bombs, sent by a dictator who also craves power and control. But it is on a smaller scale that we see how little power and control others really have over us unless we let them. Despite all Cecily's attempt at controlling May, she is the one who remains an independent spirit. And it is by running away, that Jeremy discovers the power each of us has to change another person's life. Just as she did in The Midnight Garden, Hartnett once again uses the device of magical realism and of a story within a story. Here, they is used as a means of connecting past and present, reminding us that the past is never past, it lives in the present or as May tells the two boys in the castle "Everything is connected…We are here because you are here."And the dialectic that Hartnett creates in The Children of the King is just wonderful. I should tell readers that there are a few graphic descriptions when Jeremy goes back to London, giving a sense of realism, but not graphic enough to scare away middle grade readers. And one does not need to already know the story of Richard III to understand Uncle Peregrine's story, he weaves in enough of it for readers to understand it perfectly well. I put off reading this novel because I was afraid that I would be disappointed. The Midnight Garden was such a brilliant book, had Hartnett set her own bar too high? No, the bar is high but The Children of the King is right up there. But, in the end, all I can says is fans of Sonya Hartnett, rejoice! To those who will be reading her for the first time with this novel, you are lucky ducks. This book is recommended for readers age 10+ This book was and eARC from Net Galley The Children of the King will be available on March 25, 2014 This review was originally posted on The Children's War

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nadia King

    I loved this book and the narrator Jennifer Vuletic did an exceptional job taking on all the characters. This was my favourite read for June and my kid walked in on me having a little weep at the end. The story was like one of those Russian dolls, stories hidden with stories on so many levels. A beautiful read about WW2 and three different children reacting to their evacuation in the English countryside. Loved the story of King Richard III, one of my favourite historical figures. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sally906

    During WWII people’s lives from both sides of the conflict were turned upside down. In England city children were evacuated to the country for their safety. Jeremy (14) and Cecily (12) were sent to the country, but their evacuation was a bit more comfortable as they went to a large manor house to stay with their uncle Peregrine, and their mother went with them. At the station they decide to offer their home to one of the little evacuees, May (10) and they all head off to Heron Hall – with its ve During WWII people’s lives from both sides of the conflict were turned upside down. In England city children were evacuated to the country for their safety. Jeremy (14) and Cecily (12) were sent to the country, but their evacuation was a bit more comfortable as they went to a large manor house to stay with their uncle Peregrine, and their mother went with them. At the station they decide to offer their home to one of the little evacuees, May (10) and they all head off to Heron Hall – with its very own collection of ruins. May meets two young boys hiding in the ruins and it soon becomes apparent that they are not run-away evacuees, but little ghosts who are not moving on. THE CHILDREN OF THE KING combines two historical events very skillfully. As Uncle Peregrine relates the history of the ruins and how they are linked to Richard III and the missing Princes in the tower; the war arrives in Britain. The descriptions of the bombing of London are among the best I have read and moved me to tears. These scenes star Jeremy who is a wonderful character – a young boy on the cusp of manhood frustrated that he can’t go and fight for his country wanting so badly to make his mark in life. Stopped from doing this by his age and the adults that care for him his life has parallels to Prince Edward – the oldest prince from the tower. Cecily was a character I found hard to love – an uppity little madam who has been spoiled and cosseted her own life and is only just beginning to realize that life is not all roses. War is about death – there is no getting around it and Cecily is now of an age where she realizes things are serious but just doesn’t want to face facts yet. For the first time in her 12 years of life, things are not falling into place for her. May was picked for Cecily to lord over, and May just didn’t play the game so gradually Cecily comes to find out that sometimes you have to play nicely. I don’t think Cecily is a horrible person, she just hadn’t had to worry about what other people might want. May was also a lovely little character. Although at 10 she is the youngest of the trio she is wise beyond her years. Her father has gone to France to fight and her mother is working in a factory making parachutes. Cecily scoffs at this activity being important for the war effort until it is pointed out that the soldiers would need parachutes when they jump out of planes to kill the enemy. The two young boys are of course the princes from the Tower, they appear only briefly yet their story is crucial to the plot. Part ghost story, part coming of age THE CHILDREN OF THE KING is a wonderful read and would make a great discussion book for children in their early teens.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    Along with their mother, Cecily and Jeremy are sent from London to the English countryside during the bombings of World War II. Seeing other children who don’t have parents or family with them, Cecily decides that her family should take in one of the young refugees. So she picks out May, a girl who looks just the right age to be a friend but also still young enough that Cecily can be in charge. But May won’t be contained by Cecily, and soon is out exploring the countryside on her own. She is the Along with their mother, Cecily and Jeremy are sent from London to the English countryside during the bombings of World War II. Seeing other children who don’t have parents or family with them, Cecily decides that her family should take in one of the young refugees. So she picks out May, a girl who looks just the right age to be a friend but also still young enough that Cecily can be in charge. But May won’t be contained by Cecily, and soon is out exploring the countryside on her own. She is the one who first discovers the two boys hiding in the ruins of Snow Castle. Cecily joins May and the two of them meet the boys who are dressed in old-fashioned clothing. Meanwhile in the evenings, Cecily and Jeremy’s uncle Peregrine tells the story of Richard III and his nephews. The two stories weave together, two levels of history intertwined into one gorgeous tale. Hartnett does so much in this book without ever losing sight of the heart of the story. Her story telling is phenomenal. She shares details of life during the Blitz and creates a warm and rich world of safety in the country. Within the World War II setting, she manages to have a character tell of another historical period with its own harrowing historical details. So often in a book with a story within a story, one is better than the other. Here they are both beautifully done and complement each other nicely. Throughout the book, Hartnett uses imagery and beautiful prose. Her writing is rich and dazzling, painting pictures of the countryside, the city, Heron Hall, and England for readers. Here is how the study in Heron Hall is described for readers on page 35. This is just part of the lush writing that sets the stage: Underfoot were flattened rugs, and a fire karate-chopped at the throat of the chimney. There was a good smell of cigarette smoke mixed with toast and dog; this room was a den, the lair of Heron Hall’s owner. Here, rather than in any of the grander rooms, was there the house’s living was done. Hartnett’s characters are done with an ear for tone. Jeremy and Cecily have a mother who is mostly absent though she is right there all the time. She is disengaged from their days and even when they are out in town together she is separate and withdrawn. Cecily too is a rather unlikeable character. And what a risk that is, to create a story primarily about a little girl who is pushy, bossy and whiny. Yet it is Cecily who makes the book work, the character who brings the responses, the action, and keeps it from being overly sweet or convenient. Gorgeously written with a complex storyline and interesting characters, this is one incredible piece of historical fiction. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy Forrester

    It’s 1938 and 12 year old Cecily is secretly rather glad that she’s being evacuated from London to her Uncle Peregrine’s country estate. Heron Hall is even better than usual because she’s not just with her mother and older brother, but with the evacuee she was allowed to pick out at the train station. Cecily is delighted with 10 year old May, until she realizes that just because you pick someone it doesn’t mean they have to do what you tell them. May and Cecily might have different ways of look It’s 1938 and 12 year old Cecily is secretly rather glad that she’s being evacuated from London to her Uncle Peregrine’s country estate. Heron Hall is even better than usual because she’s not just with her mother and older brother, but with the evacuee she was allowed to pick out at the train station. Cecily is delighted with 10 year old May, until she realizes that just because you pick someone it doesn’t mean they have to do what you tell them. May and Cecily might have different ways of looking at the world, but both are equally mesmerized when they stumble upon the mysterious and out-of-time Snow Castle and the two boys hiding inside the crumbling walls. They’re also enthralled with Uncle Peregrine’s story of the castle’s past. But as World War II escalates, the children start to notice that the past and present are eerily similar. Originally published in Australia in 2012, this historical fiction story explores themes of bravery, nobility, war, death, power, and duty. The narrative is written in third person from Cecily’s innocent and, more often than not, willfully ignorant point of view, which helps to soften the heavy themes. Although Cecily is a privileged and sheltered protagonist, Hartnett imbues her with such eagerness that readers will root for, rather than against, her as her eyes are opened to reality. The principle characters are three dimensional, flawed, and fascinating. Although the adults in the story care for the children, they are detached and often absent. Therefore, the children have their own world, set apart, that only overlaps with the grown-ups at meal times. Cecily's older brother Jem struggles to reconcile his youth with his ideas about bravery, duty, nobility, and war. Hartnett skillfully weaves in the real-life story of the imprisoned Princes in the Tower (Edward and Richard). This story is haunting and allows the characters to think about power as a driving force not just in the 15th century, but during WWII, as well. In addition, the narrative is introspective and full of achingly beautiful descriptions of people, places, and emotions. Recommend this book to historical fiction fans, especially those kids who are fascinated by WWII. Readers will find some background knowledge about WWII helpful as historical events are not always fully explained in the text. Full Review at Chapter Book Explorer: http://chapterbookexplorer.blogspot.c...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alison O'Keefe

    Its a Hartnett, so automatically I would love it - but this was set in a time that interests me a lot and so made it double amazing for me. I've often thought about the time in London when children were sent out of the city for their safety, it's stayed with me since I was a child reading Narnia- I've thought about it now I'm a parent and whether I would send my children away for their safety. So reading about this time was interesting in itself. It then went on to a time in history that I adore Its a Hartnett, so automatically I would love it - but this was set in a time that interests me a lot and so made it double amazing for me. I've often thought about the time in London when children were sent out of the city for their safety, it's stayed with me since I was a child reading Narnia- I've thought about it now I'm a parent and whether I would send my children away for their safety. So reading about this time was interesting in itself. It then went on to a time in history that I adore, it was the story behind the beginning of the Tudor era (my favourite historical time). As a huge Hartnett fan, I knew who the two boys probably were straight away, but I feel that the story didn't try to hide it so much as didn't outright say it until the end. One thing I felt wasn't quite right was Cecily's age- her behaviour was that of a much younger child and I feel that she should have been ten like May, or possibly younger. Loved it, and will be giving it to my son to read as it is excellent historically and I know as an eight year old who likes scary stories it will be loved!

  14. 5 out of 5

    O. Hart

    This book was the coming of age story of several children during the harsh years of world war 2. This story would have been much better,however, if one of the main girls had been much more mature. She was basically a five-year-old in a twelve-year-old body! At the end of the book though, she does mature, somewhat.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    Sonya Hartnett's books are like music: a rhythmic cadence, delicious word choices, unusual images, complex themes, and great character development. I feel like I'm in the eye of the storm. My hurricane pace slows for a moment and I think about the beauty of language and what makes a great storyteller. The narration has little action as most takes place in the country-side at Uncle Peregrine's estate, Heron Hall, where twelve-year-old Cecily; her brother, Jeremy; and her mother, Heloise, have sou Sonya Hartnett's books are like music: a rhythmic cadence, delicious word choices, unusual images, complex themes, and great character development. I feel like I'm in the eye of the storm. My hurricane pace slows for a moment and I think about the beauty of language and what makes a great storyteller. The narration has little action as most takes place in the country-side at Uncle Peregrine's estate, Heron Hall, where twelve-year-old Cecily; her brother, Jeremy; and her mother, Heloise, have sought refuge on the eve of the 1940 London Blitz. While en route they pick up an evacuee, May, who along with hundreds of other children have traveled to the country for safety. Many are without any adult supervision and need to be taken in by families. At Heron Hall, May and Cecily explore the ruins of Snow Castle where they find two boys in "pantomime" costumes. Perhaps they are runaway evacuees housed with some theater folks. They are distrustful, snobbish, and afraid. Cecily is a snob right back. May cuts through all the blustering and sees the two boys actions are based on them being afraid. This coming-of-age story is historical and has a fantastical element. The author captures the complex relationships of families, friends, and acquaintances. When we bought a puppy, my five-year-old daughter expected the little furball to sleep with her, patter in her shadow nonstop, and worship her like a goddess. She'd grab the pooch and carry her everywhere. If Cecily had her druthers, she'd collar May and force her to follow her around. When the family scoops May up at the train station Cecily likens it to finding a "kitten in a basket." She picks May like a she's a toy in the store. When she realizes that May is "independent" and does what she wants, things get ugly. Cecily is a selfish, spoiled, lummox who remains an unsympathetic character until the end of the story. Only a confident writer would risk creating an unlikable character. Cecily says mean things to May bossing her around and acting superior because she has money. She isn't completely lacking in qualities; there are glimpses of kindness and humor. She does feel remorse at times, but only if the other person gets angry. Jeremy and Heloise are usually putting Cecily down although with Jeremy it is more your run-of-mill sibling relationship where they fight but are also loyal to each other. Heloise can be cruel to her children; yet, both she and her husband are indulgent as well. Cecily's superior attitude toward May is her way of feeling important and powerful. May acts as her foil and is the smart hero, so it works. The Snow Castle adventure alternates with Uncle Peregrine telling an after-dinner tale of Richard III, who he calls, The Duke. The tale is based on the history of the end of the House of York before the Tudors came to power. Richard III supposedly killed his two nephews and usurped the throne. Peregrine is described like Shakespeare's King Richard III with a limp, long hair (medieval fashion), and a widower. Except Shakespeare's King is not as introspective as Peregrine. The family learns from the Duke's story how the unscrupulous pursuit of power can impact the future. The overarching theme of power shows how it corrodes friendships, causes wars, is oppressive, and does not bring joy to the usurper even if it does bring money and position. More importantly, the entire plot shows the powerlessness of children. They are under the authority of adults who can be cruel or kind. Adults can use power to shame and control people. In this case, Heloise controls her children and threatens them when they disobey. Also, the moral complexity of children being shipped out of London for their safety and the desire to be independent from the power of adults is reflected the most in Jeremy's character. The nature of power is examined in its abusiveness from children to adults and kings. Jeremy and his mom have power struggles. He wants to be a man and feel he's helping with the war effort and his parents see him as a kid they want to keep safe. His mom doesn't talk to him about it but just exercises her parental authority enjoying her power over him that comes with being an adult versus a child. Jeremy takes the powerlessness of being a fourteen-year-old under the care of his parents and acts on it to find power in how he wants to shape his future. Jeremy's arc shows that he doesn't have to kill to be a man in the war. He can save people in other ways. Power for him comes in saving others with the results of peace and joy in his spirit. It also awakens him to the knowledge that his father is not perfect. He realizes both of his parents have shortcomings and even though he loves them, he will make different choices in his life. Jeremy represents young people and the desire to test themselves. I remember doing crazy things as a kid. We'd jump off bridges into the lake. We felt daring and brave. Some kids tested themselves on bikes or skateboards or speeding in cars. Jeremy wants to use war to test himself in battle. This seeking of danger is one that can be a push for independence by teens and is part of the coming-of-age story. The two alternating stories morph together in a fantastical way. Is Peregrine related to Richard III? The locket given at the end suggests that he might be. Peregrine's gift of the locket to May and his comments where he tells her she is the most important person ever to stay at Heron Hall, suggest she is the link between histories in the past and the current life. Out of all the characters, she is the one who sees things that others cannot. I kept thinking of her as the ghost-of-histories past. Great lines brim the pages of this book from Cecily wanting to bite off her nail to Jeremy describing the blitz. "Her thumbnail, incompletely chewed, was singing a siren's song." I'm a nail biter so I laughed at this one. It didn't matter how many times my parents told me to stop biting my nails, I'd go after them whenever I had to sit still. Jeremy's dramatic description of the blitz: "He'd opened his eyes to the oddest of sights: the sky above him was red. It was slashed across with the white beams of searchlights, and burnt black at the edges by night: but the clouds were red as if the sky had been drenched by buckets of blood. He didn't see aeroplanes, but he felt the vibrations shake though his body, four hefty booms to the chest as the bombs drove themselves into the ground."Another great line is Peregrine's: "Flimsy things like words become lost in time." I don't reckon this authors will be lost anytime soon.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    The Children of the King is set during World War II. And it's set in ENGLAND during World War II. There is every reason in the world, why I should love and adore this one. Cecily and Jeremy and their mom evacuate to the country; since London is fast becoming much too dangerous, they've evacuated to the family's country estate, Heron Hall. They will live with Uncle Peregrine. On their journey, they see hundreds of other children also evacuating. Unlike Jeremy and Cecily, these kids are going to l The Children of the King is set during World War II. And it's set in ENGLAND during World War II. There is every reason in the world, why I should love and adore this one. Cecily and Jeremy and their mom evacuate to the country; since London is fast becoming much too dangerous, they've evacuated to the family's country estate, Heron Hall. They will live with Uncle Peregrine. On their journey, they see hundreds of other children also evacuating. Unlike Jeremy and Cecily, these kids are going to live with strangers. Cecily resents that they're on the same train. "While she pitied the evacuees, part of her wished they had been on a different train so she wouldn't have had to see them and be weighed down by their plight. She had troubles of her own." (17) But oddly enough--unless you've cheated and read the jacket--Cecily decides by the end of the journey that she just HAS to have ONE of these children. She WANTS to choose herself. She examines the children carefully and slowly. She settles on the one that--by appearances at least--will suit her best. She chooses a girl named May. May, Cecily, and Jeremy. Three kids that, for the most part, are so different from one another. Sometimes their worlds touch: they interact well with each other and seem to enjoy one another's company. And other times, it's selfishness times three. Jeremy is fourteen. He is ANGRY and scared and perhaps ashamed that he's scared? He feels he has something to prove. He does NOT want to be in the country. He does not want to be stuck with Cecily and May. They may need the safety and comfort of the country. But not him. He's a man, well, almost. Surely, Jeremy is brave enough and strong enough and stubborn enough to think and act independently. Cecily. Is she simple or complex? I just can't make up mind. On the one hand, she's selfish and bossy and inconsiderate. On the other hand, what she says may not reflect how she feels. She may be hiding how the war is effecting her. Her fears and doubts might be to blame. I did not really like her very much. May won't be bossed around for long. Cecily may have picked her out like a pet; Cecily may think she's the boss, but, May is more than capable of standing up for herself and doing exactly what she wants. When Cecily and May accept one another as somewhat equals, there is some peace. But instant friends they are not. Still Cecily and May spend over half the novel in each other's company. It is Cecily and May who spend all their time investigating "Snow Castle;" Cecily and May who discover the two strange boys living in the castle ruins. Cecily and May who keep a secret from all the grown-ups. I will be honest. I didn't exactly "like" any of the children. I did enjoy, however, Uncle Peregrine! He seems to be just what these three children need. He seems to be the only adult there who understands the children deeply. Peregrine is a storyteller. He tells these three children a story. This story takes weeks to tell. He tells just a little at a time, always leaving them wanting more. He does have a way with words. For better or worse, the story Peregrine tells is of Richard III and the princes in the tower. He does not call the man in the story, Richard III, he calls him Duke. But to adult readers especially, it is clear how his "story" fits into history. Pereguine's story, unfortunately, is ambiguous in all the wrong ways. Richard III is clearly the murderer. (Boo, hiss!) In his ambiguous telling, he offers the possibility that the boys were saved, after all, that they were taken to the country to hide for the rest of their lives. And since these two princes match up oh-so-closely with May and Cecily's strange new friends living in the ruins, readers are led to believe this is where their ghosts dwell after all. I would have much preferred Hartnett to be ambiguous with the identity of the murderer, to at least consider that others had equally strong motives. If Richard himself had hid the children away in the country, it would have been a more enjoyable ghost story. I typically like World War II stories. I don't usually like ghost stories. Does the fact that the ghosts are the princes of the tower make me change my mind? I'm still thinking on it. I do appreciate the juxtaposition of these two stories. How Hartnett trusts readers to reach conclusions and find common themes: how children rarely, if ever, have power or a voice; how sometimes children are caught in situations out of their control, are caught in chaos and uncertainty. That war is war, and war can be cruel and ugly. So in many ways, I can like this one, at least from a distance, but did I love it? I'm not sure I can stretch it that far.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    I quite enjoyed this book although I wasn't sure if the book was about the present children or the historical children (on which the book is named and who make a ghost like appearance in the book) if the story was meant to be mainly about the latter then I felt it left too much hanging. Not enough detail. I guess this could be forgiven being a children's story though. I also felt that the author was trying too hard to be clever. The first few chapters were so overwhelmed with metaphors and descr I quite enjoyed this book although I wasn't sure if the book was about the present children or the historical children (on which the book is named and who make a ghost like appearance in the book) if the story was meant to be mainly about the latter then I felt it left too much hanging. Not enough detail. I guess this could be forgiven being a children's story though. I also felt that the author was trying too hard to be clever. The first few chapters were so overwhelmed with metaphors and descriptions that it became frustrating, however either I got used to it or she evened it out as the book progressed. I will commend the author on her characters though. I really did not like Cecilie the main character. She was spoilt, will full and mean however the author let you glimpse into her heart a few times which was the heart of a scared little girl. She was a totally believable character. The mother however was weak and pretty useless. It saddened me that there really are women who could be this insipid. All in all it was a good read, not your typical war story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rico

    I found "The Children of the King" very boring. Cecily was a very selfish, ignorant, bossy, immature and acted like a baby, even though she was about 12 years old. She thought that his father was a God and only the people who Cecily knew were important. Jeremy was Cecily's brother and he was playing a strange, childish kidnapping game, however he liked to read newspapers and talk about current affairs. I recommend this book to children who are in Year 4 or 5 as the language is extremely easy to I found "The Children of the King" very boring. Cecily was a very selfish, ignorant, bossy, immature and acted like a baby, even though she was about 12 years old. She thought that his father was a God and only the people who Cecily knew were important. Jeremy was Cecily's brother and he was playing a strange, childish kidnapping game, however he liked to read newspapers and talk about current affairs. I recommend this book to children who are in Year 4 or 5 as the language is extremely easy to read and the plot is simple if you don't think about it deeply, although Cecily's uncle talks a little about cruel things people did long time ago. I don't think that the title is very good as the book is mostly about World War 2, rather than about Kings and Queens.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lewis

    This book was utter garbage. It was a waste of time to read, and a waste of money to make. I think this book should never have been published because of the flaws and uninteresting parts in it. The book is confusing, boring, and has nothing that makes you want to keep reading. I would never recommend this book ever, because the book was a interesting as watching paint dry. There were many hateable characters like Cecily, a selfish, prigish, daddy's girl who thinks she is important but she's just This book was utter garbage. It was a waste of time to read, and a waste of money to make. I think this book should never have been published because of the flaws and uninteresting parts in it. The book is confusing, boring, and has nothing that makes you want to keep reading. I would never recommend this book ever, because the book was a interesting as watching paint dry. There were many hateable characters like Cecily, a selfish, prigish, daddy's girl who thinks she is important but she's just an annoying, whiny brat. Jeremy is the only character that makes the book interesting, because he is rebellious, angry and always annoyed at Cecily. The book was painful to read, and it was the worst book I have ever read in my life, and I would NEVER recommend this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    What does it say about a novel when I want to recommend it, but only if readers ignore the main characters? The Children of the King should have been a total no-brainer, top read, all-time favorite, but a selfish and arrogant main character completely took me out of the story. The World War II setting, Richard III retelling, and lyrical writing were superb, I just wish Cecily had been written out. For the full review and more, head over to The Pretty Good Gatsby! What does it say about a novel when I want to recommend it, but only if readers ignore the main characters? The Children of the King should have been a total no-brainer, top read, all-time favorite, but a selfish and arrogant main character completely took me out of the story. The World War II setting, Richard III retelling, and lyrical writing were superb, I just wish Cecily had been written out. For the full review and more, head over to The Pretty Good Gatsby!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Such a promising story. Such a flimsy delivery. This book had so much potential. Intrigue. Mystery. Rich, robust characters. An authentic historical setting. A secret castle. Ghosts. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver. The characters never really connect. The plot is anemic. The action - what there is of it - becomes stilted and stale. The characters fade into cardboard cutouts after a promising start. Loose ends are left that way, dangling like a messy ball of yarn, haphazardly unwound. Marginally Such a promising story. Such a flimsy delivery. This book had so much potential. Intrigue. Mystery. Rich, robust characters. An authentic historical setting. A secret castle. Ghosts. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver. The characters never really connect. The plot is anemic. The action - what there is of it - becomes stilted and stale. The characters fade into cardboard cutouts after a promising start. Loose ends are left that way, dangling like a messy ball of yarn, haphazardly unwound. Marginally coherent. Disappointing and dull.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nik McGrath

    Read this for YA lit at uni and totally loved every minute. Each sentence evokes glorious imagery and envelopes the characters with feeling and a sense of place and time. The story is set in WWII with the bombing of London and children sent to safe places in the north of England. History and children's place in it is an interesting theme that the reader is left thinking about long after reading this book. Read this for YA lit at uni and totally loved every minute. Each sentence evokes glorious imagery and envelopes the characters with feeling and a sense of place and time. The story is set in WWII with the bombing of London and children sent to safe places in the north of England. History and children's place in it is an interesting theme that the reader is left thinking about long after reading this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael Livingston

    I didn't realise until I started this that it was a children's book, but it swept me along anyway. It tells the story of three children exiled to a country house in England during WW2. The writing is lovely and the story charming enough - not as unsettling as Hartnett's superb Thursday's Child, but probably aimed at a slightly younger audience. I didn't realise until I started this that it was a children's book, but it swept me along anyway. It tells the story of three children exiled to a country house in England during WW2. The writing is lovely and the story charming enough - not as unsettling as Hartnett's superb Thursday's Child, but probably aimed at a slightly younger audience.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Savannah

    I had high hopes for this book, especially since it was about World War II. (I really like historical fiction from this time period) . But, I was upset with the book and found myself skipping lots of the pages, because I couldn't get into it. Eventually when I got to the end, I really liked the ending, but the rest of the book was "ehhh...". I had high hopes for this book, especially since it was about World War II. (I really like historical fiction from this time period) . But, I was upset with the book and found myself skipping lots of the pages, because I couldn't get into it. Eventually when I got to the end, I really liked the ending, but the rest of the book was "ehhh...".

  25. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    This is a WWII evacuee children story, crossed for no great effect with Richard III magical realism. The characters were of an affected type I don't like when Evelyn Waugh does them, and the "supernatural" story was dropped in with no payoff. This is a WWII evacuee children story, crossed for no great effect with Richard III magical realism. The characters were of an affected type I don't like when Evelyn Waugh does them, and the "supernatural" story was dropped in with no payoff.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    Ho hum http://pussreboots.com/blog/2017/comm... Ho hum http://pussreboots.com/blog/2017/comm...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    Consummate storytelling. Sublime structure. Quiet and lyrical.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kristel

    Excellent writing. Tight and beautiful. Layers of storytelling woven throughout the novel.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Oh good lord, Cecily is the worst. Its WWII England, and all the children of London are being sent to the countryside for safety. Cecily, however, is part of the upper crust, so no being sent alone with a luggage tag to some stranger for her! She and her mother and older brother set out for their uncle’s country manor to spend the war in ensconced in a fairly Downton Abbey-esque setting. At the village train station, Cecily sees a group of working class children being set up with various housing ar Oh good lord, Cecily is the worst. Its WWII England, and all the children of London are being sent to the countryside for safety. Cecily, however, is part of the upper crust, so no being sent alone with a luggage tag to some stranger for her! She and her mother and older brother set out for their uncle’s country manor to spend the war in ensconced in a fairly Downton Abbey-esque setting. At the village train station, Cecily sees a group of working class children being set up with various housing arrangements and begs her mother to let her pick one to be her best friend / sister / pet / doll. She picks a young girl who looks biddable and they all head up to the manor to get settled in. Cecily bosses the girl she picked – May – with the smugness of someone convinced they are doing good and saintly work as she condescendingly explains how the upper class live. Its every cringe worthy act every child performs when trying to impress dialed up to eleven and I wasn’t sure if Cecily needed a dressing down lecture or some sort of sensitivity training. Maybe both. With some chores thrown in for good measure. And she really needed a better education. She has a few brief flashes of clarity, and occasionally people call her out, but she never changes and remains willfully ignorant and desperate to always be the center of attention. However, the depiction of all three of the children made it really hit home to me for the first time how much WWII screwed up children’s heads and the tragedy that - for those that lived - none of them got the PTSD therapy they so desperately needed. Meanwhile, Cecily and May explore the ruins of a nearby castle, and Cecily convinces her uncle to tell them the story of the castle. He tells the story in installments, revealing the castle is connected to the history of Richard III, and the uncle makes a huge point of the evils of seeking power, in any century, and how children are always powerless victims of the politics of war. As the story unfolds each night and the girls explore each day, they keep running into two mysterious boys hiding in the castle. Hartnett tries to play coy about their identity, but, despite the weirdness of it, it’s obviously the Princes in the Tower, metaphysically hanging out in the ruins. While all this is going on, Cecily’s brother is getting angrier and angrier that he has been sidelined from the war *just* because he’s 14, and refuses to believe he’s too young. So it’s no surprise when he runs away to help the war effort. He is hit in the face with what war is and it is a chilling reminder to the reader what war does to people. And then book just ends with an offhand mention that everyone will be mostly fine. The worst part of the book was the technical problem that Hartnett could not handle Multiple Third Person Point of View. The narration usually sticks to Cecily’s POV, but every now and then will suddenly switch to other POVs in a disorienting way that does nothing for the story but bring you out of it. I could see she was going for the older writing style of Tolkien and Lewis, but she doesn’t quite bring it off.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Hendricks

    The First chapter of the Children of the King left me unsure whether I wanted to keep reading because the character of Jeremy argued so bullheadedly with his father and because Cecily was so stupid. However, after the first chapter, I was well enough invested in the story that I kept reading until the end, and I’m glad I did because the story was very well-written and very well planned and executed. The story was set during World War 2. At the beginning of the story, Cecily and Jeremy are sent wi The First chapter of the Children of the King left me unsure whether I wanted to keep reading because the character of Jeremy argued so bullheadedly with his father and because Cecily was so stupid. However, after the first chapter, I was well enough invested in the story that I kept reading until the end, and I’m glad I did because the story was very well-written and very well planned and executed. The story was set during World War 2. At the beginning of the story, Cecily and Jeremy are sent with their mother to live with their uncle Peregrine at Heron Hall, along with an evacuee named May that they agree to take care of for the duration of the war. The story mainly focuses around the relationship of May and Cecily as the two adventure around Heron Hall and discover two mysterious boys living in the ruins of a nearby castle. When they ask Uncle Peregrine about the castle, he begins to unfold the story of King Richard the third in a very delightful manner throughout the course of the novel, making for a delightful read. Throughout the story, I enjoyed Cecily’s obtuseness for the most part, and I enjoyed how the author told the story from Cecily’s perspective but also didn’t limit herself to only looking out through this girl’s eyes but felt free to elucidate the feelings and thoughts of any given character. The story was character-driven but had plenty of action in the plot to keep things moving along and the juxtaposition of the story within the story pleased me greatly. Both the beauty of the author’s writing and the structure she used to tell the story were exceptionally well done, though I disagreed with the philosophy of the ending

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