I am an English teacher and so read a lot of books written for kids, and believe me, this mesmerising world of fairies and angels is nothing like a mere teen's book at all, in fact, it is the most gripping and absorbing novel I have read in a long, long time.
The novel is set in 16th century Protestant England during which Catholics were persecuted, and enemies of the heretical faith lurk in every corner. And though Sarah Singleton may seem to harbour sympathies for the Catholic faith, the story moves back in time to the 13th century when a mother was executed for witchcraft by the Catholic church, showing that intolerance is always an issue, and how dangerous it was to go against established religion. The fear of discovery and hiding away, the pain inflicted on the "unfaithful," and the inability of a child to protect its family are some of the most moving passages in this novel. The language is a feast for the senses, very descriptive, brimming with elaborate adjectives, metaphors and similes. At the same time, a dark, gloomy sense of mystery and intrigue pervades the book, enemies of the faith hiding away and persecutors watching and following every step. Interwoven into 16th century England are magical and fantastical worlds and a host of strange and dangerous creatures - a green-faced and green-haired heroine from the Shadow Land, goblins, fairies who trick and delude you and blood-thirsty angels so unlike the holy creatures that we are used to.
A kaleidescope of different worlds and magical creatures, this story is not just a simple tale of good and evil. Even the angels and the fairies are vengeful and cruel, and inflict torment on those who are thirsty for blood. A bit like C.S. Lewis with its strange worlds and creatures, this is however much more deep, frightening, absorbing, beautiful and truly gripping. I read this book in a day because it was impossible to put it down and I will certainly be nagging the English department to order a whole set of them :)