The Princess and Curdie (by George MacDonald)

Nearly a month ago I re-read and very much enjoyed the children's book 'The Princess and the Goblin' by George MacDonald. I had bought (second-hand) a rather nice illustrated hardback version for a young friend, and wanted to re-visit the story myself. Although I do have rather elderly paperback copies of both books in this series, which I probably hadn't read for about thirty years, I was pleased to discover them available free for my Kindle at Project Gutenburg.

In the last couple of days, I then re-read the sequel, 'The Princess and Curdie', also on my Kindle. It seems to be intended for slightly older children, as the issues covered are fairly complex. In this story, Curdie sets out on an adventure without much idea of where he is going. He trusts Princess Irene's great-great grandmother, even though most people don't believe in her, and is given an unusual ability to help him discern people's characters.

When Curdie reaches his destination, he discovers a city full of corruption and treachery, with the old king dangerously ill. Curdie is determined to stand up for what is right and to cleanse the castle and city of evil. There's plenty of Christian allegory for those who are interested in seeing it, but since - like all the best Christian fiction - it is not spelled out, and there is no preaching, it can be enjoyed by anyone.

There's lots of excitement and adventure in this book, which would probably appeal to children - particularly boys - of about seven or eight and above. For non-fluent readers, it could make a good read-aloud.  Just one warning, though: there is some significant violence, and realistic threats are made, both of which might disturb a particularly sensitive child.

But with that caveat, I would definitely recommend this book. Although it stands alone, it's best read after 'The Princess and the Goblin'.

Note that the Amazon links given are to paperback editions of this novel, which seems to be continually in print. However there are Kindle editions available, and if you can't find a free one, try Project Gutenberg.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 25th July 2011

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