Title: The Golden Tower
Author: Belinda Murrell
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction/Time slip
Published: 2nd March 2021
Synopsis: In her wildest dreams, Sophie never thought she might be kidnapped by a cat and taken to a world of flying horses and wonder – but also magic, mystery and danger!
Transported to the land of Tuscia, Sophie accidentally saves the daughter of a wealthy family and is swept along on their journey to the Golden Tower.
Now she is the only one standing between sisters Isabella and Bia and the terrible fate their stepmother has planned.
Sophie doesn’t think she is brave enough, but with the help of a talking cat, a stableboy and some very tiny mischief-makers, she might be able to save the day.
Sophie is in England, staying with her Nanna. Her mum is with her younger brother, Archie, in Oxford at a summer camp for gifted kids. Archie is supersmart, whilst Sophie struggles with reading, but she loves art and drawing. Feeling alone, Sophie starts to explore Brocklea, she finds an old tunnel, adorned with Roman images of mythological creatures when following a ginger cat. When she emerges, she finds herself in a world called Tusica, very much like Renaissance Italy, and saves the young daughter of Bia, the daughter of a duca. Soon she is swept into the intrigue of the family and is up against the stepmother of Isabella and Bia – Ginevre – who is pulling the strings of all those around her to manipulate the fate of the sisters and those around them.
Out of time and place, Sophie must find a way to fit in and use what she knows, whilst being berated by an irate ginger cat, to stop Ginevre and save the sisters.
It’s been a long time since Belinda came out with a time slip book, and I was thrilled when this one arrived. I have loved everything else Belinda has done in the recent years, but the time slip/historical fiction books she writes have a special place in my heart and are amongst some of my favourite books that Belinda puts out. In many, the characters are transported back in time, or are told a story by a relative about their youth, and the story sometimes flashes back and forth between past and present. Yet here, Sophie is not only transported back in time, but also to a world that is similar to ours, yet not exactly what we expect it to be. It is a world of magic, and talking cats, but also a world very much split down class lines, and Sophie’s experience of this world is in stark comparison to her own life.
Inspired by a family trip to Italy, Belinda has created a world that is wholly believable, and one that you want to visit to meet Nonna, Bia, Isabella, Leo and Nicco, yet at the same time, there is a sense of dread that one would have to deal with Ginevre. Perhaps we could all stay at the Castello de Vorrona with Nonna for the whole time – she was one of my favourite characters, and I loved her approach to education for the children, in stark contrast to Ginevre.
Like any good story, The Golden Tower is filled with heroes and villains, characters to love, characters to hate, and characters who fall somewhere in between in various ways. It presents a realistic approach to friendship, promoting the power of friendship and how it can change lives, and showing that sometimes, we are quick to judge people. It is told beautifully, and was one that I didn’t want to put down, because I had to find out what happened next. It is a brilliant magical adventure that takes place in a cruel historical period, but manages to encapsulate everything exquisitely, and in a way that isn’t too scary, but has just the right amount of tension that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Another great Belinda Murrell book!