Review Blog

Sep 02 2010

Halo by Zizou Corder

cover image

Puffin, 2010.
(Age: 10+). Recommended. (Age 10-14) Highly recommended. Kyllarus, a centaur, finds a tiny baby with a turtle shell strapped to her back crawling along a beach. The baby has a tattoo on her forehead and is wearing an owl amulet. He takes her home to his family, who name her Halosydne, 'saved by the sea', and lovingly bring her up as a family member. Disaster strikes when she is swimming with her centaur brother, Arko. She is captured by fishermen and sold into slavery. She manages to escape and tries to survive by cutting her hair and pretending to a boy. However more misfortune befalls her and she is captured by a group of Spartan boys, led by Leonidas. After a series of exciting adventures, including going to see the Delphic Oracle, living in Athens in Pericles' house and training to be a doctor and warrior, she discovers the truth of her origins.
An exciting adventure story, with lots of action, the setting in Ancient Greece makes this book stand out. I was gripped by the descriptions of the Spartan community and the terrible trials the young boys went through to become warriors. Greek religious beliefs were described in an easy to understand way and Halo's trip to consult the Delphic Oracle was fascinating. When Halo discovers that her uncle is Pericles, who believes in the rights of man, I was fascinated by the descriptions of medicine in Ancient Greece and the way that women were treated.
Corder, a mother and daughter writing team, managed to remind me of what I learnt studying Ancient History many years ago. Halo is sure to educate a young reader about ancient Greece in the best way - the reader may become so immersed in Halo's quest that the factual information just becomes part of the story and easy to remember.
I loved the themes of mythical centaurs, slavery and the rights of women. Recommended for both boys and girls from about 10 year of age.
Pat Pledger

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