'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 25 December 2020

Review: The Forest of Moon and Sword

1647, England: Five long years of civil war and countless deaths, the abolition of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun feasts and celebrations, bear-baiting and folk-dancing banned, King Charles 1 handed over to the English by the Scots (and subsequently executed), Oliver Cromwell takes control of the New Parliament and the witch hunts first instigated in medieval times intensified on a wide-scale basis, led by such as Matthew Hopkins known as the Witchfinder General, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people, the majority of these girls and women. 

All in all, if time-travel was an option probably not the setting of choice, in my opinion.

Art Flynt is twelve years old when her mother is taken away by the soldiers accused of witchcraft. 

Her father and brother both dead, Art has only her beloved mother left to her and knows that left on her own in their small Scottish village, she is also at grave risk of being branded witch. 

Bravely, she packs up a few special possessions: her mother’s precious herbal remedies book, her brother’s sword and some rope and sets off on her horse, Lady, to find her way through the forests of England to Essex and the summer solstice witch trials, determined to rescue her mother.

The journey is fraught with danger, but Art also encounters mystical signs along the way all of which help to guide her safely to her destination where she joins forces with similarly courageous girls who are dedicated to bringing the witch hunts to an end.

Taking its cues from feminist fairy tales this novel offers some wonderfully resilient and resourceful female characters for readers, but readership is not confined to girls given a strong male character adds balance. The thrilling adventure and the suspense of the ‘count down’ until the day of the trials all adds to the overall appeal to readers of both genders. As with all good historical novels readers will also learn much about the period with insights into clothing, food, housing, warfare, and the fabric of society.

This ticks the boxes for middle grade readers on many levels and lovers of great historical adventure will truly enjoy this with its uncommon setting. Small illustrative accents throughout add to the overall appeal and at times offer the readers a useful visual of important aspects of the time.

Title: The Forest of Moon and Sword
Author: Amy Raphael
Illustrator: August Ro
Publisher: Hachette Australia, $15.99  
Publication Date: 12 January 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781510108356
For ages: 10 - 15 
Type: Middle Grade Fiction