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Fern Capel Trilogy by Jan Seigel

Review by Alleandra

Book 1 – Prospero’s Children
Book 2 – The Dragon Charmer
Book 3 – The Witch Queen (also published as Witch’s Honour)

The World:
Parts of each of the 3 books take place on other plains of existence, but for the most part, the books are set in present day England, primarily in Yorkshire and London.

The main character is Fern Capel, who is only 16 when we first meet her. Her brother Will, her father and her friend Gaynor all participate in the story. The mysterious Ragginbone and his wolf/dog Lougarry, as well as various goblins, elemental creatures and some heavy hitting villains round out the cast.

The Plot:
Book 1 Prospero’s Children opens up with young Fern and her family going up to Yorkshire, where her father has inherited an old house. Fern, who is a very practical young girl, wants to sell it, but her father wants to at least look it over. Of course, strange things start to occur when they move in, for within the house is hidden a key to a forbidden place. Book 2: The Dragon Charmer takes place some 12 years after the events of the first book. Fern is in denial about what has happened, and she is all set to marry a prominent (if totally wrong) person, who is 20 years older than she. It is his wish to be married in the Yorkshire house, but once more, ancient forces best left sleeping come back to life. In book 3, Fern is still haunted by her past, but has been growing in her Gift. But the horrors from the past are not finished with her yet, and she must use family and friends as pawns in her attempt to overcome an evil force whose powers exceed her own.

I loved books 1 & 2 for the most part, although each had some slow parts where the forward momentum of the story stalled. Still, the feel on book 1 in particular, was very fairy tale like, with a twist of the bizarre to add a new taste to a familiar brew. When the main characters are grown up, some of the fun of the books dissipates. Still, even with this, the second book was exciting and fun to read. In book 3, the characters are only sketchily drawn, and further development doesn’t occur, especially with Will and Gaynor. Fern does go through some changes, but I don’t get a feeling that the reader really gets to know her. Prospero’s Children was the best of the 3 books, with better overall feel, plot and characterizations. Dragon Charmer was weaker, but still a very good read and The Witch Queen was the weakest of the 3. It had some of the dark, twisted elements that I come to expect from this author, but in all, it failed to deliver. It does get bonus points for the offbeat ending though, but loses some when one particular item which occurs at the end of tDC is barely even alluded to in tWQ. I found this to be a bit odd, since the event I am talking about is not very run of the mill.

The overall series gets a 4.25 Prospero’s Children – 4.50 The Dragon Charmer – 4.25 The Witch Queen – 4.00

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