The Golden Cage
Publisher: Book Island
The Emperor's daughter Valentina is a rude and spoilt girl who loves nothing more than her 101 exotic birds, kept in person-sized cages. Servants are sent off to the far reaches of the world to find impossible birds to add to the princess' collection, knowing that if they return empty-handed, the princess will have their heads cut off.
Yet, one day, Valentina decides that the bird she wants most of all is a talking bird, and she will do anything to get it...
This bloodthirsty, spooky fable is in the tradition of fairy tales telling stories of horrible royals that often get their comeuppance. Valentina is no different in The Golden Cage, though her end is rather left to the reader to decide.
What is remarkable about this haunting story is Carll Cneut's painterly and delicate illustration, which is beautifully odd and delightful. Produced in a large format hardback, we have huge pages to pore over and can get lost in the stunning visuals that celebrate the beauty of Valentina's birds and the beautiful gardens, which contrast starkly against her despotic rule.
It's a gothic tale that will delight kids looking for something chilling, unusual and remarkable.