Wednesday 26 September 2012

270. Ransomwood by Sherryl Jordan

Ransomwood by Sherryl Jordan
Published August 2012 Scholastic

From the publisher:
With her uncle threatening to marry her off to his odious widowed brother, Gwenifer is almost relieved to be sent away to escort the magistrate's old, blind mother to Ransomwood, where the tears of the statue of the Holy Mother are said to have healing qualities. She and Harry, the village halfwit, who is escaping a sentence of hanging for being in charge of an ox that trampled a child almost to death, embark on a perilous journey ... each of them looking for a different kind of healing.

There have been many times this year when I have raved about an author, saying they are my favourite.  In my top ten novels of ALL TIME, two of them are written by New Zealand authors.  One, Changeover by Margaret Mahy, and the Juniper Game by today’s author, Sherryl Jordan.  I have been waiting a long while for a new book from this author, and I have actually been saving it for a day when I know I can really enjoy it.  Does that make me weird?!?

This is a story told in a medieval setting, with a theme that is popular in Sherryl Jordan’s work.  The idea that people and communities can make judgements of people based on scraps of information and gossip.  This was especially so in a time when anyone tried to do something different, or use science or medicine in any way, they could easily be accused of being  a witch.

In this book we have three characters, all who have been labelled in some way.  Gwenifer, orphaned by a single mother who died in childbirth, now considered a hussy in her village, Halfwit Harry, his name says it all, he was dropped on his head as a baby, but he is strong, and loyal and kind and finally Mother Dorit, a blind medicine woman, who many fear is a witch.  Together they leave the village on a pilgrimage to Ransomwood, for the tears of a statue that will save a dying girl from the village, and cure Mother Dorit's blindness.

On the journey the three travellers learn about each other, and realise that they are as guilty as anyone for making assumptions based on hearsay, but they come to realise the strengths and worth of each other, when they only have each other to depend upon.  These three characters reminded me more that a little of another three characters heading to a place called Oz, and there are more similarities when the three actually reach Ransomwood and the statue of the Blessed Lady.

This story is about so many things, family, loyalty, identity, friendship, belonging, love and faith.  There's also drama, as the pilgrimage does not go to plan, and for very different reasons, none of the three travellers make it back to their village, it's then that they are truly tested and we see the true character of each.

Who will like this book: Girls age 14+
Read it if you like: The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan


  1. I love Sherryl Jordan's Juniper Game too. It would definitely be in my Top 10. When I talk about it most people say they haven't heard of it.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I love to get comments because it means someone is actually reading my blog :)
    I had a look at your blog, and it's great, I really like the way you have focused on particular themes and 'days', it could be a very useful resource.

  3. I wish she would write more books!!