Review Blog

Sep 24 2013

The locket of dreams by Belinda Murrell

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Random House 2013. ISBN 9780857980212.
The publisher's blurb reads:
'A magical timeslip adventure set in Scotland of the 1850s and present-day Sydney. Sophie discovers a golden locket in an old treasure box that belonged to her grandmother's grandmother. When she falls asleep wearing the locket, she magically travels back in time to 1858 to learn the truth about the mysterious Charlotte Mackenzie.
Daughter of a wealthy Scottish laird, Charlotte and her sister Nell live a wonderful life with their parents and animals, on a misty island with its own ruined castle. Then disaster strikes and it seems the girls will lose everything they love. Why were Charlotte and Nell sent halfway around the world to live with strangers? Did their wicked uncle steal their inheritance? What happened to the priceless sapphire - the Star of Serendib? With the magic of the golden locket, Sophie begins to unravel the mysteries as she shares the adventures of Charlotte and Nell - outwitting their greedy relatives, escaping murderous bushrangers, and fighting storm and fire. But how will her travels in time affect Sophie's own life?'
This is not only the perfect summary of this historical fiction novel, but also the perfect bait to get our girls who are independent readers to take the hook. I have to admit that lack of time and opportunity meant this novel from Belinda Murrell had not made it to the top of my review pile, but having read and thoroughly enjoyed The River Charm it was immediately elevated to the next must-read position and it deserved its place.
In my review of The River Charm I wrote, 'Historical fiction, written well, can provide a greater insight into the life and times of a particular period better than any website, textbook or other non-fiction resource. Historical fiction, written well and woven around actual people, places and events can bring the past to life and enable students to really appreciate the contrasts between life in a particular timespan and their own enabling them to reflect on not only the changes that have occurred, but, often, why they have' and it applies equally to this title as that. Murrell has based the story on tales handed down through the generations of her family, tales accompanied by the passing of the locket from mother to daughter for 150 years. She remembers holding the locket in her hand as a youngster when her mother owned it and wishing she could see what 'Ellen Mackenzie must have experienced while she wore it.'
Murrell has a wonderful knack of looking at her family's history and saying 'I wonder' and crafting a most readable story with credible characters that makes you say, 'Of course that's what must have happened' while, at the same time, because of her thorough research, providing an insight into the life of the times in a way that enriches the history curriculum making what could be tedious come alive. I'm now going to seek out her other titles - The Forgotten Pearl, The Ivory Rose and The Ruby Talisman - because I think they will make a must-have collection that will provide a remarkable journey back in time that will be an excellent support to the history strand of the Australian National Curriculum.
Barbara Braxton

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