Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Prospero's Children
Jan Siegel
Del Rey Books, 368 pages

Prospero's Children
Jan Siegel
Prospero's Children, volume 1 of her new trilogy, is Jan Siegel's first novel.

ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Pat Caven

The best thing about this book is the sheer virtuosity of the writing.  The second best thing is that although it is part of a trilogy, it stands wholly and beautifully on it's own.  For someone who feels that very few of today's fantasy plots deserve three books (much less six, nine or twelve), I could almost let that fact alone knock the talent thing right out of the park.  Almost.

Prospero's Children opens its portals into a scene straight out of myth and legend.  A doomed ship, tossed by a raging tempest, the siren who helps destroy it, and the key to the beginning of a tale that will span centuries.  Flash forward to the present where a young girl and her family are drawn into the tale when her father inherits a house in Yorkshire.  Fernanda Capel is an extremely self-possessed and practical young woman.  But a woman with a blossoming gift and a destiny that she has no idea how to fulfill.  As the truth of her story is revealed, she begins the search for the key to the Gate of Death -- a doorway that, when opened by the primordial evil that seeks it, will destroy the world as it did Atlantis eons ago.

There is no way to describe the plot to this novel without revealing an outstanding number of surprises along the way.  Characterization is superb, right down to the bit players (younger brother Will deserves a book of his own).  Description, dialogue and humour are all managed with subtle style and wit.  If there is a weakness, it is one that will bother some and be praised by others.  Three quarters of the way through the novel the resolution seems to occur, there is the calm before the storm, then the novel morphs into another book.  I found it startling, but compelling and, in the end, it brought the novel completely full circle.  Even if you find it jarring, hold out for that ending -- it is impressive.

This is a fabulous novel and Jan Siegel is an astounding writer.  It is like discovering Patricia McKillip, Peter Beagle, Robin McKinley, C.S. Lewis or John Bellairs.  Neither the book's glowing blurbs nor this review can do it justice.  Just buy it, read it and let it remind you why you read this genre in the first place.

Copyright © 2000 Pat Caven

Pat Caven was (and perhaps in some ways still is) a local bookseller. She has now wandered into the public domain.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide