Allison's Book Bag

Celandine by Steve Augarde

Posted on: January 23, 2011

“She was running away for the third time. How terrible it would be if she were caught again.” With just these two sentences, Celadine by Steve Augarde proves more riveting but also darker than The Various: the first book in the Touchstone trilogy. Unlike its predecessor which I found in the juvenile section of my local library, Celadine was properly shelved as young adult. It is more disturbing, unsettling, and controversial. Whatever will the third book be like?

In Celadine, we are thrust back into the World War II years. Ten-year-old Celadine is growing up on Mill Farm, an estate inherited by Midge’s Uncle Brian–both of whom are characters in The Various. Celadine is feeling miserable at the Coronation Picnic, being held in honor of King George and Queen Mary. Part of her misery arises from having to wear perfect clothes and pulled tight hair. Some arises from snobby guests. The rest comes from her governess Miss Bell, who is showing off to a prospective suitor by pointing out everything Celadine has done wrong.

A fairy

Image via Wikipedia

Celadine exacts revenge on her governess by inquiring, “Miss Bell, do you remember that time when you were sick into a bucket? That time when Father said you had been at the sherry–” With this embarrassing question, Celadine forever invokes the wrath of her governess. Ongoing battles ensue between them, carrying on for about one-fourth of the book, until a tragedy changes everything for Celadine. Her parents eventually send her away to boarding school, where of course nothing improves. Three times, Celadine tries to run away, not with the intention of returning home but of escaping to Howard’s Hill–where the Various (or little people) live.

The book’s darkest moments lie in Celadine’s battles, first with her governess and later with her dormitory peers. From day one, those girls play tricks on her and bully her. Initially, their abuse is simply out of dislike for anyone new. Later, it develops from their abhorrence for her German roots and mystical ways. She can foresee certain events and possesses a healing gift. The dark moments also lie in the migration of the Various, a journey which ultimately involves threats and assault, betrayal and murder.

While these moments riveted me to the book, they also disturbed me. The tragedy at Mill Farm seems extreme, as does its resultant violence. The cruelty at Mount Pleasant Boarding School is no less extreme. For this reason, Celadine runs away three times. At times, the book seem almost too much to bear.

Yet like its predecessor, the book shines in capturing the thoughts of a pre-teen girl, her playful and revengeful acts, and her joyous discovery of The Various. Celadine will surely come across as a sympathetic character to anyone who has been misunderstood. Although her shared times with the Various are eventually disrupted, their scenes instill an abundance of fun into this well-written and absorbing tale.

Throughout the first books, there are references to each girl seeing a strange girl from another time. Midge obviously catches glimpses of Celadine; who in turn catches glimpses of Midge. Both girls also encounter the Various and seem integral to their survival. Whatever will happen next? How will the paths of these two girls and the Various finally connnect? Hopefully, the conclusion to the Touchstone Trilogy will reveal all!

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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