Queen of the Silver Arrow

Written by Caroline Lawrence
Review by Nicky Galliers

Acca has grown up fascinated by the story of the princess who was hurled across a river tied to a spear. She has wanted to be that princess from the age of five, learning to hunt because she did, listening to the stories and hanging on every word about her, beguiled by the legend.

Then she meets her in the flesh, and she is not what she expected at all.

This story, based on the writings of Virgil, fills in the gaps left by that ancient Roman poet, weaving a story that is as powerful now as it would have been when it was first written.

The themes in the book are quite adult in feel but written in a style that is easy to access and very easy to follow. As it is a children’s book, the characters are not fully explored, and yet there is enough in it for me to feel the prick of a tear at the end. Conundrums are presented, demanding thought from the reader before answers and explanations are offered, giving a surprisingly sophisticated conclusion to a story that jogs along quite prettily otherwise.

This is a slim volume formatted to be read by children and reluctant teens, laid out to be easier to read, to follow the flow of words and not get lost in a sea of print. It feels robust in the hand, enough to weather the average child. It does not shy from the unpleasant and there is little gloss on traumatic events. And yet it is not so stark that younger readers would be frightened by it. It is marketed as a ‘teen’ book but I do believe that pre-teen readers will find it easy to approach, and thus a satisfying experience.