The Puzzle Ring

Written by Kate Forsyth
Review by Elizabeth Jane

The Puzzle Ring is a fantasy adventure with an almost Blytonesque feel. It involves a curse, a prophecy, a puzzle ring, and a trip through time, as well as mouthwatering descriptions of marmalade cake.

Hannah Rose Brown is an ordinary Australian school girl. One day, she receives a letter from her great-grandmother, telling her she is the heir to a castle in Scotland. Through the letter and her subsequent visit to the Highlands, Hannah learns there are mysteries surrounding her father’s death that her mother has failed to mention. She also learns of a curse that has haunted her family for generations. When Hannah finds her father’s diaries, she is determined to break the curse. But to do so, she must travel back in time along with her friends, Scarlett, Donovan and Max, in pursuit of the four missing parts of a puzzle ring.

The majority of this story is set in the present day. Only 173 of its pages are set in the days of Mary, Queen of Scots. So it only just qualifies as historical fiction. Nevertheless, the build up to time-travel is well handled, with a great deal of historical detail surrounding the folklore and superstitions of the Highlands. Particularly interesting is the children’s involvement in the events leading up to the sudden and mysterious death of Henry, Lord Darnley. Their observations regarding hygiene, poverty and personal freedom in the 16th century are also amusing.

The Puzzle Ring is a compelling fantasy novel that will appeal to children in the upper primary school years. It will also serve as a good introduction for those not familiar with the historical fiction genre.