I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

It seems that I must have some sort of Cinderella complex lately because Coriander could easily compare her life to that of Ella! Coriander’s story starts out with an introduction to her happy, cozy life. She has a wealthy, merchant father, a beautiful, loving mother, a large home, and several servants — including Mistress Danes, who loves her like a daughter. Soon after the story begins, Coriander’s mother dies, her father remarries an evil woman named Maud, and she ends up with a step-sister named Hester. Coriander even has her own pair of magical shoes, for goodness’ sake! Luckily, for you, there are a lot of new details in this story to keep you from getting bored with the “same old, same old.” Unfortunately, for Coriander, a lot of these new details are horrible. Like her step-mother’s evil, so-called preacher boyfriend who moves in when Coriander’s father has to run away to save his own life. Or the fact that her step-sister is actually nice… but powerless to really help her in any way. Some of the magical aspects of this story were simply delightful, but others were a little scary at times — though I will have to stop there so I don’t give anything away. What made this story really unique, in my opinion, was how well it integrated fantasy, (a little bit of) romance, and historical fiction. I was not big on history in high school, but I think a story like this may have made it more bearable for me. There is just enough fantasy mixed in with the details about Puritanism and the English Civil War that I think I actually learned some things without trying! For this reason, I think this would be a fun story for teachers in English and history classes to collaborate on. Still, it is an enjoyable story for plain old pleasure reading, and I highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good fairy tale with a healthy dose of girl power!

Happy Reading!

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