Review: Ferragost

Back in August, I blogged about Melina Marchetta’s short story, Ferragost, a companion to her Lumatere books. As Marchetta explained in a blog post, “Ferragost is a stand alone short story. If you are a reader of the Lumatere Chronicles, you’ll remember that Celie is the daughter of Lord August and Lady Abian and is best friends with the Queen of Lumatere.”

 I recently read Quintana of Charyn, Book Three of the Lumatere Chronicles (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books Australia, 2012). Don’t worry, I won’t post my review until the American edition is released by Candlewick. But, while reading Quintana and thinking of that review, I decided to post a short review of the short story, Ferragost.

Ferragost is, of course, a joy for fans of the Lumatere Chronicles, a bonus story of a world we love, despite its harshness and brutality. It could work as an introduction to Lumatere, if a reader wanted to start with something shorter than Finnikin to test the waters, to see if Lumatere is a good fit for them as a reader. It dumps the reader right into the action, into the world, just like other fantasies.

Ferragost is an Agatha Christie type mystery: Lady Celie is visiting the Belegonian spring castle, with only a handful of other people. A dead body is found. Who is it? What happened? With so few people in the castle, Celie is as much a suspect as anyone else. She has to figure out what happened, and who really did it. Twists! Turns! So much so that I hope that Marchetta decides to write a full length mystery one of these days.

Celie is the star of Ferragost; people like Froi and Isaboe and Finnikin are mentioned in passing. I suggest reading Ferragost before Quintana, because there is a bit of a reveal of something in Quintana that I enjoyed discovering on my own in Ferragost. Celie, a supporting (if not minor) character in the other books, takes the lead in Ferragost, so much so that I want to reread Finnikin and Froi, just to read about Celie, now that I know her better. Her character is strong and smart; did I realize it in the other books? Or was I taken in, thinking she was “just” the daughter of a lord?

Ferragost includes what I like best about the other Lumatere books: a fully created world, yes; engaging characters, yes; but also the sadness and tragedy that comes from the real-life world of politics and duty.

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