In the Serpent’s Coils

Tiffany Trent, Author . Mirrorstone $8.95 (291p) ISBN 978-0-7869-4229-9

Trent’s first novel—first in the projected Hallowmere series—borrows heavily from folklore themes used to better effect in other contemporary YA fantasy novels. Shortly after the Civil War ends, Corrine recovers from swamp fever only to discover that the illness has claimed her mother’s life. Her aloof Uncle William shelters her for only a few weeks before she breaks every rule of his household (as well as proscriptions familiar to even the most casual fairytale reader) and brings about a violent raid on his property, apparently by fairies. Promptly packed off to a “reformatory school for young ladies,” Corrine now sees visions, has strange dreams and feels haunted by “the Captain”—whoever he might be. At the school, girls have been disappearing; a classmate is possessed; servants either practice witchcraft or have second sight. Something dark is transpiring behind the scenes—but whom can Corrine trust as she tries to keep herself and the others safe? And surely she can glean some clues from the 14th-century correspondence she keeps finding (especially as it is in modern English and therefore easy for her to read). Even with so much action, the plot moves slowly, and the details slip in and out of historical accuracy. Some big loopholes in the plot (Corrine noting that she has no actual proof that her mother died, for example) leave openings for major reversals in the remaining nine installments, although readers may not wish to stick around. Ages 13-up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
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Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-8773-9
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