Sunday 6 December 2015

The Ring of Curses

The Ring of Curses by Margaret R Blake (Satalyte Publishing)
PB RRP $25.99
ISBN 978 0 992095 4 5

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

The Ring of Curses — Merlin's School for Ordinary Children is a fantasy story about a castle that appears out of nowhere, and the children who are invited to go to school there. Unlike Harry Potter, where the children are all witches and wizards, these kids are neither magical nor talented. However, as they embark on their adventure, in a manner reminiscent of an Enid Blyton book, some of the characters turn out to be more special than they first thought.

The kids of the tiny seaside town of Calder Cove are ready for a bit of excitement when they are invited to Merlin's School for Ordinary Children. Daffodil, Ernest, Orion, Tilderly and Bridget and friends go away for ten months to a mysterious place their parents can't visit. Lessons include how to behave at tea parties (for the girls) and how to make a fish trap (for the boys). In History, the children time- travel back to Middle America in Aztec times. Neville, a bully and thief, steals an ancient ring which sets off a chain of consequences.

The strength of this humorous adventure story is that it has likeable characters. The book must be set in contemporary times, because when the children arrive at the school, they relinquish their mobile phones and are not allowed to use computers. However the story is written in an old fashioned style, with turns of phrase from an earlier time. The school staff is behind the scenes and remains mysterious to the end. We never really find out how they know what the kids are thinking or even the reason for the school in the first place. There is an obvious room for a sequel to further explore these questions.

Published by Australian publisher Satalyte Publishing, The Ring of Curses is an enjoyable middle fiction story. It is Margaret R Blake’s debut work.

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