The Colours of Madeleine

I don't do many reviews of current books on this blog. I'm self-conscious about reviewing the books of authors I know (even though they are all GENIUSES). But I just can't bring myself to stay silent on these ones. Bonus: I've never met Jaclyn Moriarty, so I can talk about how clever she is without fear.

I absolutely adored these books, the first two volumes of the Colours of Madeleine trilogy (yay! still one book to look forward to!). They are fresh and funny, sweet and serious, fantastical and moving, both unexpected and plotted tight. For me, they fell in the sweet spot between children's and YA: smart and philosophical, but also magical and filled with wonder.

In A Corner of White, we meet 14 year old Madeleine Tully, who has run away from her dysfunctional father to live in a garret with her mother in Cambridge, England. And we meet Elliot Baranski, who has also lost his father, though under very different circumstances. Elliot lives in the small town of Bonfire, The Farms, in the Kingdom of Cello.

Elliot and Madeleine discover a crack between their two worlds, a crack just large enough for a letter to slip through. They begin an illicit correspondence (contact with the World is a capital offence in Cello). Cello is a world not unlike our own in many ways. But its seasons shift about from day to day; there is a Lake of Spells in the province of Magical North, and other, dangerous magic in the province of Olde Quainte, which has an irritating dialect all its own; and the population are at risk from random attacks of   Colours -- a sixth level Purple, for instance, or third level Red. But Elliot is searching for his vanished father, and he has other things to worry about…

I'm especially grateful to Jaclyn Moriarty, because A Corner of White was the first book I could persuade Evie to read to get her away from those damn cat books, and she loved it too. We raced each other to finish The Cracks in the Kingdom (I won, she is still going). Both volumes start off slow, but be patient. Moriarty is building a careful edifice of small pieces, and at the end you can only stand back and gasp at the perfect, utterly satisfying whole. There was a twist at the end of Book 2 which I might have been dumb not to foresee, but it gave me that wonderful jolt of happy surprise that the best books give you when you're young. Maybe that was why I loved these books so much; they recaptured for me, as so few books do these days, the utter delight and wonder of immersion in a new world. And now I'm all itching for volume 3.

Just read them!


  1. Dear Kate,
    Oh My Gosh!!!!!
    I have just finished A Corner of White today.
    What are the chances of that. After 3 weeks in England and 2-ish weeks of tremendously BAD internet connection I come on and find that you are reading the same books as me!
    From Thirrin

  2. Have you read The Cracks in the Kingdom yet? I was so happy to find these books!
    We must have a psychic connection ;-)

  3. Dear Kate,
    Mum is reading it now.
    I have to wait until she is done.
    From Thirrin.

  4. Mum has finished. Your turn Thirrin!