The Children of Castle Rock – Natasha Farrant
If I think back to my own childhood reading, boarding school adventures seemed to be everywhere. It is a theme which stirs up dreams of a childhood free from parents and a licence to explore. From the moment I saw the cover of Children of Castle Rock, I knew that this would continue the theme.
We follow Alice as she is sent to boarding school in the Scottish Highlands. Here she finds herself getting into all kinds of scrapes. Then, days before an orienteering competition, she receives a mysterious message from her absent father. Determined to meet him, Alice and her team shun the competition to brave the wild weather and travel to a remote island. The problem is that they aren’t the only ones heading there!
One thing I will say is that Children of Castle Rock reads like a piece of classic children’s literature. Not just because of the content, but also because of the writing style. Much of the composition reminds me of Blyton or CS Lewis. There are sentences which keep on building, adding layer upon layer for the reader. The narrative conjures up explicit images which strengthen your connection with the settings.
Alongside this, Natasha Farrant often uses a more familiar narrative tone to drop hints about how the story will progress. This put me at ease with the book. I felt a personal connection with Farrant and I felt part of the world she created; I felt included, I felt special.
In short, this is a beautifully crafted book. It has all the hallmarks of a classic children’s novel, yet still manages to bring the ideas up-to-date. As an adult, it provides a little bit of nostalgia. For children, it will open their eyes to a world of adventures waiting to happen.
*This review first appeared on ReadingZone, who kindly organised an advanced copy of the book for me*
Age Recommendation: 10+
Pages: 320 pages
Publisher: Faber & Faber