Coriander Hobie's happy childhood in 17th-century London is brought to an abrupt end when her mother is murdered by an evil fairy queen from the land of her youth. Her father, a royalist during the Cromwell era, makes a politically expedient second marriage to a repulsive Puritan widow, but nonetheless must soon flee for his own safety. Coriander is left to be abused by her stepmother and the sadistic preacher who soon takes over the family home, but she faces equal danger as she travels to the fairy world to protect her mother’s legacy from the wicked queen.
The fanaticism of the witch-hunting Puritans makes the figures rooted in historical events sit surprisingly naturally alongside the fairytale villains.
Both the imaginary world and that of London during the civil war years are brought vividly to life in this richly satisfying mix of history and magic. This title was shortlisted for the 2005 Nestlé Children's Book Prize (9-11 Years category).