By Author / Illustrator
C. J. Haslam, Paddy Donnelly
Walker Books Ltd
Paperback / softback
A spooky and darkly comic adventure set in Cornwall - Famous Five with a twist.
Orla thought she was in for a relaxing family holiday, but when she finds a mysterious glowing necklace in the woods, it turns out there is a slight possibility she may have uncovered an ancient curse. After meeting a coven of old ladies, it becomes clear that Orla's arrival in Poldevel is no longer a coincidence. She's the only one who can solve this mystery, and she'll need help from the only other member of the family with good instincts - Dave the dog.
When Orla Perry arrives at their holiday cottage in Cornwall, she immediately loves the 'oldy worldy' feel that it had about it. Racing through the rooms with her brothers, bagging the best bedroom, she has high hopes of a summer spent exploring. It is whilst out and about with her dog Dave (the self-appointed guardian of the family) that she starts to realise that things are not quite as they seem.
The lack of birds, or any wildlife, creates a nagging feeling that all is not right here. The discovery of a strange object hanging in the branches of a fallen tree causes the start of strange dreams and visions. The meeting of the girl Raven - another thread to follow. As Orla began to dig deeper into the tragic history of the area, she becomes unwittingly embroiled in an adventure of mystical proportions. With only her gut instinct to go on, she finds herself the keeper of secrets and the soldier of truth. But was it chance or fate that had brought her and her family here, to this cottage, at this time?
C J Haslam weaves a magical tale of intrigue and sorcery in this fast-paced, twisting adventure that hurtles the reader into a mystical world of witchcraft. Linking past and present in a seamless shift allows the reader to straddle and be bewitched by parallel times that ensnare and mystify. The combination of historical context and imagination mesh to create a wonderful story that is difficult to put down.
I would recommend Orla and the Serpent's Curse for 9+ readers with an interest in adventure and sorcery. The novel has clear links to family relationships, expectation, fairness, strength of character, friendship, belief and historical references to witchcraft.
304 pages / Reviewed by Donna Burkert, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+