Title: The Wildkin’s Curse
Author: Kate Forsyth
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Published: 1st May 2010
Synopsis: Three times a babe shall be born,
between star-crowned and iron-bound.
First, the sower of seeds, the soothsayer,
though lame, he must travel far.
Next shall be the king-breaker, the king-maker,
Though broken himself he shall be.
Last, the smallest and the greatest –
in him, the blood of wise and wild,
farseeing ones and starseeing ones.
Though he must be lost before he can find,
Though, before he sees, he must be blind,
If he can find and if he can see,
The true king of all he shall be.
Merry, Zed and Liliana – three children born between those of hearthkin blood and starkin blood – are on a perilous quest to the Palace of Zarissa. Amid the splendour and treachery of court, they watch and wait: planning the rescue of Princess Rozalina, held captive in the dazzling Tower of Stars.
And as their pasts and presents unfold, their destinies become clear.
The engrossing companion to The Starthorn Tree by one of Australia’s best fantasy storytellers, Kate Forsyth.
Zedrin is a starkin lord, and heir to the Castle of Estelliana.
Merry is a hearthkin boy, the son of the rebel leader.
Liliana is a wildkin girl, with uncanny magical powers.
They must journey on a secret mission to rescue a wildkin princess from her imprisonment in a crystal tower. Princess Rozalina has the power to enchant with words – she can conjure up a plague of rats or wish the dead out of their graves. When she casts a curse, it has such power it will change her world forever. Set in a world of monsters and magical creatures, valiant heroes and wicked villains, The Wildkin’s Curse is a tale of high adventure and true love.
Sixteen years after The Starthorn Tree, Merry and Zed are fulfilling their parents’ promise – they have gone to live with Briony the Erlrune. Here, they meet Liliana, a wildkin girl who hates the starkin but is forced to work with Zed and Merry on a secret mission – they must collect seven feathers from seven birds to break a curse and save Princess Rozalina – doing so will set their land on a path to peace once the blood of the starkin, hearthkin and wildkin are united.
Their mission is dangerous, and as they venture further into the land of Ziva, they encounter many dangers, but grow closer together as they begin to understand their mission and each other. Filled with fantasy creatures, magic and elements of fairy tale, this is a stunning companion to The Starthorn Tree. It continues the story seamlessly, but at the same time, enough hints are given that they can be read as stand-alone books, though work better read together, and I am going to read the final book – The Starkin Crown – soon.
The dangerous mission is filled with monsters and moments of terror – when you think the characters won’t get out of it – but of course, as in fairy tales, they do. I couldn’t decide who my favourite was – they were all such wonderful characters, but I think my favourite moment was when Priscilla, Zed’s sister, dressed in clothing a starkin wouldn’t usually wear, and pushed the sinister Zakary over when he tries to force her to marry him. Each character is complex, and this was definitely a delightful moment in the book as the characters worked towards uniting their land. There were many moments I enjoyed – this was just the stand-out for me.
These books are beautifully written and evoke all the classic archetypes of fairy tale quests but with unique twists that place the girls and women at the centre of the story and with great agency and powers, whilst still containing nods to Rapunzel and her tower. The role of towers is common in Kate’s books, and as a fellow fairy tale scholar, I love reading her works, and seeing how she’s incorporated the tower and Rapunzel story into her work. These fairy tale elements are seamlessly and creatively woven throughout – they might be more obvious in the children’s books, or certain adult books, but they are always there.
Another brilliant offering from Kate Forsyth that I loved as I work my way through her books that I have not yet read or not read for some time – there are ones I wish to re-read and hopefully, can get to them soon.