10. The Puzzle Ring – by Kate Forsyth
I recently saw Kate talk at a conference I attended and I was intrigued to read one of her stories. The Puzzle Ring was the first of her novels that I could get my hands on, but it will not be the last. Despite being aimed at a significantly younger readership (probably around the 10-13 year old bracket) I thoroughly enjoyed the story and devoured the book quickly.
The Puzzle Ring is a story about a girl, Hannah, and her mother who leave Australia to go back to Scotland –where her mother and father met and married, also where her father apparently deserted her mother shortly after Hannah’s birth. Staying with Hannah’s Grandmother (on her father’s side) Hannah learns more about her father and his mysterious disappearance in the first few days in Scotland than she has ever heard before. Also Hannah is exposed to Fairy Lore which the locals seem to believe in, though her mother dismisses it as nonsense.
Without giving away too much of the story, Hannah gets embroiled in the beliefs of the locals and takes it upon herself to end the curse that has plagued her family for generations. She gets help from a small group of local kids, all born within days of Hannah, and also caught up in the mystery in their own ways.
The Puzzle Ring is a clever story which has been tightly written, making for very good pacing. It does not cross any big taboos, making it accessible to more advanced younger readers, while also not going too soft, so still retaining interest for readers even at my age. It does dabble quite heavily in Scottish Fairy Lore and magic, so if you would rather you kids not read these topics steer clear. But if you are looking for an entertaining, fast-paced, intelligent adventure story, you have found exactly what you are looking for here!