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The Children of the King

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  598 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Three children have been sent to live in the countryside, safe from the war in London. When they find two boys hiding in a castle, the past and future come together to make an extraordinary adventure.

A hauntingly beautiful story from one of Australia's most acclaimed writers for adults and children
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published March 21st 2012 by Penguin Australia
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I so much wanted to like this, and it feels odd in a way _not_ to be in raptures about it. I can't help thinking that those who are giving this novel rapturous reviews are reviewing the book for what it is trying to be rather than for what it is. It is undeniably beautifully written, with a grave, distanced narrative voice that at times, especially early on in the novel, reminded me of no lesser personage than Virginia Woolf. The central premise is beguiling: two privileged children are evacuate ...more
Cecily and Jeremy Lockwood, along with their mother, are fleeing London and going to the countryside. While the city blackens itself in preparation for air raids, and newspaper headlines scream that France will fall… the Lockwood children are being whisked away to Heron Hall, to stay with their Uncle Peregrine while their father holds the fort in London.

Upon arrival at the country train station, the number of children with nametags and suitcases delights twelve-year-old Cecily. She begs her moth
This is the third book I have read by Sonya Hartnett, and I really liked it. I really like her books. I have one big problem with them though. I don't really think they are books for children. They have themes and structures that are just too complex for children to fully grasp. This book is especially misleading. Its cover, description and characters are all about juveniles, but once I started reading it, I knew that were so many nuances in this book that a child would never truly appreciate th ...more
Alex Baugh
With the fall of France and the war becoming worse for Britain, it was time for the Lockwood children, 12 year old Cecily and Jeremy, 14, to leave London. So it was off to Heron Hall, to their Uncle Peregrine Lockwood's estate, with their mother, Heloise.

Traveling on the train to the same village were groups of school children also being evacuated from London by the government. These school children are taken to the town hall and as Cecily watches them leaving one by one with women who were to
Susan P
Meh. Two children are sent from their home in London to stay with their uncle in the countryside. Along the way they pick up a girl who is among the evacuees. Once settled in their uncle's home, the two girls explore the grounds and come across the remains of an old castle. They encounter two boys who are rather rude to them, and when they ask Cecily's uncle about the castle later that day, he tells them a sad and brutal story about the tower and its inhabitants. The story within a story format ...more
Sonya Hartnett writes a book as an artist paints a painting. The words go together like colour harmonies and sometimes, deliberate disharmonies. She has a quite amazing ability to observe human behaviour and misbehaviour and to capture the kernel of it in an elegant way on the page, and yet she can gleefully throw reality to the wind if it doesn't suit her composition.

I found this particularly noticeable with her character Peregrine. When he is giving longer speeches, it doesn't suit Hartnett t
Barb Middleton
Sonya Hartnett's books are like music: a rhythmic cadence, delicious word choices, unusual images, complex themes, and great character development. I feel like I'm in the eye of the storm. My hurricane pace slows for a moment and I think about the beauty of language and what makes a great storyteller. The narration has little action as most takes place in the country-side at Uncle Peregrine's estate, Heron Hall, where twelve-year-old Cecily; her brother, Jeremy; and her mother, Heloise, have sou ...more
I really didn't find this particularly good in spite of large swatches of areas where the writing was close to poetic. The nasty characters of almost everyone in the story ruined it for me. The main character, Cecily, was a spoiled, not too bright brat. Her older brother was a whiny adult wannabe, in short, your typical teen but pretty whiny. Their mother was Cecily grown up. The young evacuee they take in was a pleasant but rather bland person. The uncle had an underlying mysterious aura about ...more
Amy Forrester
It’s 1938 and 12 year old Cecily is secretly rather glad that she’s being evacuated from London to her Uncle Peregrine’s country estate. Heron Hall is even better than usual because she’s not just with her mother and older brother, but with the evacuee she was allowed to pick out at the train station. Cecily is delighted with 10 year old May, until she realizes that just because you pick someone it doesn’t mean they have to do what you tell them. May and Cecily might have different ways of look ...more
Along with their mother, Cecily and Jeremy are sent from London to the English countryside during the bombings of World War II. Seeing other children who don’t have parents or family with them, Cecily decides that her family should take in one of the young refugees. So she picks out May, a girl who looks just the right age to be a friend but also still young enough that Cecily can be in charge. But May won’t be contained by Cecily, and soon is out exploring the countryside on her own. She is the ...more
The Children of the King is set during World War II. And it's set in ENGLAND during World War II. There is every reason in the world, why I should love and adore this one.

Cecily and Jeremy and their mom evacuate to the country; since London is fast becoming much too dangerous, they've evacuated to the family's country estate, Heron Hall. They will live with Uncle Peregrine. On their journey, they see hundreds of other children also evacuating. Unlike Jeremy and Cecily, these kids are going to l
I quite enjoyed this book although I wasn't sure if the book was about the present children or the historical children (on which the book is named and who make a ghost like appearance in the book) if the story was meant to be mainly about the latter then I felt it left too much hanging. Not enough detail. I guess this could be forgiven being a children's story though.

I also felt that the author was trying too hard to be clever. The first few chapters were so overwhelmed with metaphors and descr
I had high hopes for this book, especially since it was about World War II. (I really like historical fiction from this time period) . But, I was upset with the book and found myself skipping lots of the pages, because I couldn't get into it. Eventually when I got to the end, I really liked the ending, but the rest of the book was "ehhh...".
Michael Livingston
I didn't realise until I started this that it was a children's book, but it swept me along anyway. It tells the story of three children exiled to a country house in England during WW2. The writing is lovely and the story charming enough - not as unsettling as Hartnett's superb Thursday's Child, but probably aimed at a slightly younger audience.
O. Hart
This book was the coming of age story of several children during the harsh years of world war 2. This story would have been much better,however, if one of the main girls had been much more mature. She was basically a five-year-old in a twelve-year-old body! At the end of the book though, she does mature, somewhat.
The Library Lady
Having recognized quickly who the "Children of the King" are, I was relieved to skim through the rest of this novel. Cecily is an incredibly annoying heroine and May isn't much better. The prose is stiff to the point where I assumed (because of the Lindgren award mention) that the author wrote in another language and that this is a bad translation. It isn't.

Kids don't read books because of awards (unless their poor, misguided teachers force them to), they read books because they are readable and
What does it say about a novel when I want to recommend it, but only if readers ignore the main characters? The Children of the King should have been a total no-brainer, top read, all-time favorite, but a selfish and arrogant main character completely took me out of the story. The World War II setting, Richard III retelling, and lyrical writing were superb, I just wish Cecily had been written out.

For the full review and more, head over to The Pretty Good Gatsby!
Cynthia Egbert
Sometimes too much information can hurt the magic. Knowing the story of Richard III too intimately caused me to struggle due to the inconsistencies to the true story that drive the story in this novel. I am sad because I would desperately love to consider the story in this book to be what might have happened. This is a haunting read that is beautifully written and I do recommend it highly. A few lovely quotes:

"The village station was usually a lonely place, having been built too ambitiously for
Mary Louise Sanchez
Twelve-year-old Ceily Lockwood,her fourteen-year-old brother Jeremy, and their mother evacuate from London to escape the bombs there and are headed to move in with Uncle Pelegrine at his country estate--Heron Hall. At the train station, they encounter children evacuees; and Cecily persuades her mother to bring May Bright, a ten-year-old to Heron Hall with them. However, Cecily can't control May, even though May is younger. May explores the estate and finds two old-fashioned dressed boys hiding i ...more
Dedrick Johnson
I read the book The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett. I rated this book a 2 because it really didn’t talk about the main purpose of the book which was World War Two. It really focused on four children who listened to a story and went on adventures. Children who are mostly interested in castles and mysteries are the best audience for this book and should read it.The Children of the King is about two siblings named Cecily and Jeremy who were sent to their uncle’s house during the war with a ...more
This review was originally posted on Narrative Investigations

There's a sort of wistfulness to the story which is very characteristic of British children's literature that goes back to the early 1900s but seems to have died out with Harry Potter's more modern popularity of the 90s and in splitting up children's literature into the more specialized middle grade and young adult. I remember seeing this wistfulness in books like some of Diana Wynne Jones' earlier books and The Dark is Rising series,
Eh. I wanted to like this book, which, based on the description, sounded like a creative mix of historical fiction and legend.

As World War II rages across Europe, Cecily, her brother and mother escape London for her uncle’s estate in the countryside. Once there, the family adopts May, a ten-year-old evacuee from London. The girls, while exploring the countryside, come across two boys living amidst the ruins of a castle.
The Children of the King is an ambitious book. In trying to tie together two
Cecily and Jeremy have been sent to live with their uncle in the English countryside, safe from the war, along with May, a young refugee. Cecily and May soon discover two mysterious boys hiding in the ruins of a nearby castle, and eagerly attempt to determine who the youngsters really are.

Harnett has captured the ambience of the atmospheric “Tom’s Midnight Garden,” but somehow falls short of the emotional impact of that novel. The elegant prose is beautifully crafted and should beguile readers,
Liza Wiemer
Set during WWII, this novel is about a wealthy family. The mother, daughter(Cecile), and son (Jeremy) flee to the country home of their uncle while London is under siege. Their father stays back, perhaps doing government work. In the country, the take in a refugee girl, May. There, 14-year-old Jeremy laments about not helping the war effort, Cecile is a brat, and May is a sweet girl, who desperately misses her mother and her father. Her mother sews parachutes for the war effort and her father is ...more
The Children of the King is a lovely book, very much in the tradition of English children’s literature, with some beautiful writing. Sonya Hartnett doesn’t fall into the trap of feeling ‘old fashioned’ as she uses modern language, but still manages to evoke the right sort of atmosphere for the 1930s.
The protagonist is an awkward little girl, not pretty (although her father loves her, and always tells her that she is lovely), and not very clever. When she and her elder brother go with their mothe
Lorry Chwazik
This sturdily-constructed tale of children learning the cost of power is given depth by lyrical writing and fully-fleshed-out characters. Three children, two who are privileged and one who is a London evacuee, are safe-keeping WWII bombing north of the city in the family manor. The personalities of both children and adults are skillfully and fully portrayed; not one character escapes the reader's occasional impatience ... and understanding. Hartnett's writing is among the best in illustrating im ...more
Brandy Painter
There were aspects of The Children of the King that I really appreciated. I enjoyed the story and, of course, the story with in it. I found the characters differing attitudes toward WWII and England's place in it to be well done and nuanced. I very much enjoyed the characters of Jeremy, May, and Uncle Peregrine. There were several aspects that annoyed me as well as though. Cecily is twelve and until she announced that at that the end of chapter two, I thought she was around six. She acts like it ...more
Sharon Marchingo
The Children of the King
By Sonya Hartnett
I felt like I was nine years old again when I read this novel, so much did it remind me of the hardback copies of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Adventurous Four books that I read as a child. The look and feel of the book perfectly encapsulates the setting which is World War 2 England. Privileged children, Cecily and Jeremy Lockwood have been sent, along with their mother, to stay with their wealthy Uncle Peregrine at Heron Hall in the countryside away fro
Honestly, the summary is more of a few stories mixed together. An overall story is Cecily, Jeremy, their mother, and a young refugee named May running off to the country to be away from the war in London. Their uncle is taking them in to Heron Hall. While there, May finds some ruins and some young boy ghosts that happen to be there. This leads to another story. The final storyline is uncle Peregrine's story. He tells stories to the children about his life. All together, it's a lot about
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Sonya Hartnett (also works under the pseudonym Cameron S. Redfern) is, or was, something of an Australian child prodigy author. She wrote her first novel at the age of thirteen, and had it published at fifteen. Her books have also been published in Europe and North America. Her novels have been published traditionally as young adult fiction, but her writing often crosses the divide and is also enj ...more
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“Bad people aren't happy. . . Wickedness often wears fancy clothes, dines on rich food, has money, controls armies, rules nations. . . but it never seems to know joy. Peace, laughter, trust, ease: these things flee from wickedness like sparrows from the shadow of a hawk.” 1 likes
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