Book Bingo fifteen – A Book Set More Than 100 Years Ago

Book bingo take 2

Kate Forsyth’s Chain of Charms series has been sitting on my shelf for a few years. Between university up until eighteen months ago, reviewing for publishers and most recently, writing quizzes for Scholastic Australia, I’ve been trying to squeeze them in, and have found time lately, so that’s what I have done.

A book set more than 100 years ago: The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth (Chain of Charms #1) – AWW2018

Book bingo take 2

UnknownWhen the family of Emilia and Luka Finch are taken to jail by Coldham, a representative of the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, they are sent on a quest by their grandmother to reunite the six charms that were scattered between six gypsy/traveller families many years ago. With only a bear, a dog, a monkey and a horse to keep them company, Emilia and Luka must first evade capture and ending up in jail with their family – and then go in search of the five other families who hold the charms and bring all six together.

I loved this start – and am hoping to have the rest of the series read very soon – in fact, I have just started book two. Set in the late 1650s, this comes into the book set more than 100 years ago by A LOT. Kate often uses history as a backdrop to her novels and she has done it exceptionally well again, right down to the author notes that go through her research and the times that her novel is set in.Kate_Forsyth

My longer review is much more in depth, and I look forward to seeing where the rest of the series takes Emilia and Luka as they seek to help their family.

Booktopia

The Butterfly in Amber (Chain of Charms #6) by Kate Forsyth

the butterfly in amber.jpgTitle: The Butterfly in Amber (Chain of Charms #6)

Author: Kate Forsyth

Genre: Historical Fiction/Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Published:

Format: 1st July 2008

Pages: 266

Price: $9.99

Synopsis: Life is always hard for the gypsies, who live to their own rhythm and their own rules, but since Oliver Cromwell had seized control of England, life had been harder – and drabber – than ever. But now life for the Finch tribe has gone even more horribly wrong. They have been accused of vagrancy and murder, and thrown into gaol with only three weeks to live. The only members of the family to escape are 13-year-old Emilia and her cousin Luka. They have been entrusted to find the six charms and bring them together again. Then, perhaps, the gypsies could once again have some luck… And the Finch tribe could walk free. What Emilia and Luka do not realise is that there is a price to be paid for each lucky charm, and that the cost may prove too high…

28th August – 3rd September, 1658:
Luka and Emilia travel to London to find the last of the Graylings tribe, who has married a Puritan lawyer and turned her back on her past. As well as all the perils of the capital city, the children must escape the vengeful Coldham, and still get to Kingston-Upon-Thames in time to rescue their families. But then, on the anniversary of his greatest victory, the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell is mysteriously stricken down… Will everything change? And can the children save their family in time?

The thrilling conclusion to the Chain of Charms series.

Winner of the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Long Fiction 2007

~*~

AWW-2018-badge-roseThe Butterfly in Amber marks the finale of The Chain of Charms series, and it reaches its climax as Luka and Emilia reach London, the capital and the heart of Parliament, and where Cromwell is destined to die within days of them arriving. As they set foot in London, they are pursued by Coldham, and arrive at the home of the Countess of Dysart, whose loyalties are uncertain until she agrees to shelter the children as they make their way through London, searching for the last member of the Grayling family, who has married a Puritan lawyer, turning away from her past. Here, they will meet family they never knew they had, be reunited with a friend from the past, and have to continue to try and evade Coldham as Cromwell is struck down on the anniversary of his greatest victory – all things Emilia has seen as they travelled across the country. With the charms reunited at last, can Emilia and Luka save their family in time?Kate_Forsyth

In the final instalment, Luka and Emilia, now in London, must use all their luck and abilities to evade Coldham, the Roundheads and pickpockets – as they seek to reunite the charms, save their family and meet up with the rest of the traveller families that they have encountered on their quest for the charms. As they venture onwards, sacrifices must be made – and they are always on watch, in case they fall into the wrong hands. Fate will bring an old ally to them and set forth a series of events that culminate in the finale of their quest, and the resolution written down in history about the end of Cromwell’s reign and the return of peace to England.

Kate Forsyth’s series  finale is as exciting and engaging as the previous five books, and brings together all the threads of story, plot and characters that have been popping in and out since the beginning of the story. I read it in two nights, eager to see what happened and how it was all resolved, and was caught up in the history, adventure and magic faced by Emilia and Luka on their perilous journey to find the charms and reunite them to save their family. She combines magic and history to create a believable  and inspiring world, where there are good characters, like Emilia and Luka, the evil characters such as Coldham, and the characters who, at great risk to their own safety and lives, help Emilia and Luka such as Tom Whitehorse, Countess Dysart and the many others who sheltered Emilia and Luka, and helped them get away from Coldham and find the charms on their journey.

I had so many favourite characters, especially the crew from the previous two books that included the Royalist Duke, a highwayman, Tom Whitehorse, and a Catholic Priest, whose company kept them alive and showed that people from all walks of life wanted to end Cromwell’s rule and were willing to do whatever they could to achieve it – including the Catholic Underground helping Luka and Emilia, proving the complexity of issues in the world can be seen from many angles, and is dealt with exceptionally well in children’s books.

I have now completed my read of this series, and thoroughly enjoyed it as I have all the other Kate Forsyth books I have read. Onto the next adventures!

Booktopia

The Cat’s Eye Shell (Chain of Charms #4) by Kate Forsyth

the cats eye shell.jpgTitle: The Cat’s Eye Shell (Chain of Charms #4)

Author: Kate Forsyth

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Published: 11th November 2007/1st September 2008

Format: Paperback

Pages: 245

Price: $9.99

Synopsis: The fourth exciting book in the six-book series by bestselling author, Kate Forsyth.

Once there was a gypsy queen who wore on her wrist a chain of six lucky charms – a golden crown, a silver horse, a butterfly caught in amber, a cat’s eye shell, a bolt of lightning forged from the heart of a falling star, and the flower of the rue plant, herb of grace. The queen gave each of her six children one of the charms as their lucky talisman, but ever since the chain of charms was broken, the gypsies had been dogged with misfortune.
The Cat’s Eye Shell – Book 4, 20-24th August 1658

Having acquired the first three charms in the quest to secure their family’s freedom, Luka and Emilia flee into Sussex with soldiers hot on their heels, in company with a Royalist duke, a Catholic priest, a highwayman and young Tom Whitehorse. Only the Catholic underground can help them all escape – but this is a most dangerous religion in the time of Puritan rule. And Emilia and Luka still must find the elusive gypsy tribe of the cat’s eye shell, who, it seems, have turned to smuggling…

Winner of the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Long Fiction 2007

~*~

As Emilia and Luka travel towards Sussex with the duke, priest, highwayman and Tom from book three, they venture into territory of the Catholic Underground in their search for the elusive gypsy tribe that holds the cat’s eye shell charm – though nobody is certain where to find them or indeed, if they will find them. But there are people threatening to stand in their ay, and despite the Catholic Underground taking them to safety, they must lie low during the Sabbath – everyone must – to avoid suspicion and stay out of the prisons and away from the gallows. But as they hide with Lady Mary and her family, Emilia and Luka are unsettled – they suspect someone is betraying their group. Whilst at Lady Mary’s they meet Milosh, a fellow Rom and the elusive owner of the cat’s eye shell they have been looking for. Caught up in the charms, saving their family and a growing plot to overthrow Cromwell, Emilia and Luka must find a way to negotiate with Milosh for his charm – and when they find out who he is helping, they are shocked – he has turned to smuggling – and helping the Catholics against the Puritan rule, for it is dangerous to be Catholic or Rom in these times.

AWW-2018-badge-roseThe fourth book in the series shows the intersection of two persecuted groups and the sacrifices they made, and the risks they put themselves in during Cromwell’s time. In a time when many people would have turned Emilia and Luka away, Lady Mary and her family the Royalist Duke, Catholic Priest, highwayman and Tom Whitehorse are there to help them – or at least accompany them for safety as far as possible. For these people, the goal is to restore King Charles II to the throne and put an end to the Lord Protector.  For Emilia and Luka, who rules is of no consequence as long as they can free their family and live their lives of music and travel – and it is perhaps here where the other characters begin to understand, or they at least have a mutual understanding that helping each other will be the best for all.

Now over the half-way point with this series, the tension is growing, as the deadline for Emilia and Luka’s quest to save their family draws closer and closer. The fear they have at losing all that is precious to them rests on this quest and getting help from the Hearne tribe to save their family. But it also rests on Emilia’s insistence that the charms have a magic quality about them that once reunited, will save their family and all Rom. It is here where the conflicting emotions and feelings Luka has towards his cousin’s approach comes out again – and the climatic ending of the novel leaves them with four charms, and an ally in Milosh, who will help them towards their next goal and charm in Sussex with the Smith tribe, and the charm shaped like a lightning bolt.

This series gets better with each book, and as Emilia and Luka move towards London and their final destination, whilst the focus is on them, the story occasionally shifts to the jail that Cromwell’s men are holding their family in, and shows the reality of what they are going through as Emilia and Luka are on their quest – truly tugging at the heart strings and having me hoping that Emilia and Luka will be successful, which will become clear when I finish the series.

Another excellent story from Kate Forsyth.

Booktopia

The Silver Horse (Chain of Charms #2) by Kate Forsyth

the silver horse.jpgTitle: The Silver Horse (Chain of Charms #2)

Author: Kate Forsyth

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s Literature

Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Published: 10th November 2007

Format: Paperback

Pages: 212

Price: $9.99

Synopsis:Once there was a gypsy queen who wore on her wrist a chain of six lucky charms – a golden crown, a silver horse, a butterfly caught in amber, a cat’s eye shell, a bolt of lightning forged from the heart of a falling star, and the flower of the rue plant, herb of grace. The queen gave each of her six children one of the charms as their lucky talisman, but ever since the chain of charms was broken, the gypsies had been dogged with misfortune.

Book Two: The Silver Horse 13th-14th August 1658
Emilia and her cousin Luka have the gypsy crown and are travelling with their menagerie in search of the Hearne tribe. They hope that this family, to whom they will soon be related, will surely help release their kin from gaol. Luka and Emilia find the Hearnes horseracing on the Downs above Epsom. But Emilia must compete to win their support. Will she have to give up her beloved mare in exchange for the Hearne family’s charm – a small silver horse? And can they escape Coldham again?

Book Two in the exciting new six-book series by bestselling author, Kate Forsyth.

Winner of the Aurealis Awards’ best Children’s Long Fiction 2007

~*~

AWW-2018-badge-roseThe second book in The Chain of Charms series by Kate Forsyth is The Silver Horse, and it picks up right where The Gypsy Crown left off, with Emilia and Luka finding the Hearne family and seeking to make an exchange or deal for the charm that the matriarch – Janka Hearne – holds: a silver horse. Emilia and Luka must find a way to get the charm, and stay together whilst avoiding the thief-taker, Coldham. As they evade capture, Emilia agrees to ride Alida – the filly she’s raised herself – in a race to earn money for Felipe Hearne and if she wins, she will get to take the silver horse charm – that Janka believes has brought her family all their good luck. With several close calls with Coldham and his men, Emilia and Luka find that they cannot trust anyone – not even Tom Whitehorse – the son of the family who they’ve worked with for years. What will Emilia give up so she can reunite the chain of charms and what deal will she make to save her family?

Kate Forsyth has delivered again – an engaging story trimmed with historical fact, with characters running the spectrum of humanity and communicating the injustices and discrimination against people like Emilia and Luka whilst maintaining an authenticity to the period that shows she has done immaculate research. Kate’s approach to researching her books shines through on every page and enriches the experience – putting her fictional characters and situations into an historical setting that resonates clearly and with a life of its own.

Much like in The Gypsy Crown, Kate Forsyth has managed to show what people like Emilia and Luka were subjected to, creating an empathy for them, and having characters on both sides whom you’re never sure you can like or trust, but who in the end, aim to do the right thing, the moral thing. Even if the moral and ethical thing to do is illegal. In The Silver Horse, the Hearne family – Felipe and Cosmo, and a stable hand – Dicky – show that they are willing to do the right thing to help Emilia and Luka, even though they take some convincing.

The pacing is very similar to The Gypsy Crown, and ensures that the reader is captivated throughout the novel and is learning about the history of Oliver Cromwell as they read. Indeed, the scene is set from the first page of the first book, and the mood of discomfort of the time, yet gives hope that the children will achieve their goals. If anything, history tells us what happened to Cromwell and those who supported him. What this series also shows is that fear of what we do not know, and fear of what is different has never changed – that it happens in many incarnations and to many people throughout history. The powerless are given a voice in this series, and this is effective as it allows readers to glimpse what the other side must have gone through, and not just the side with the power.

Another fabulous read from the delightful Kate Forsyth – book three is about to be started now!

Booktopia