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Prospero's Children

(Fern Capel #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,399 ratings  ·  121 reviews
A power-hungry queen forged a key to a door millennia ago in the fabled Atlantis that was never meant to be opened by mortal man. During that time, the key lay forgotten beneath the waves. But now, in present-day Yorkshire, it will change young Fernanda Capel's life forever. ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 29th 2001 by Del Rey Books (first published October 4th 1999)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,399 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A house where not all is as it seems. A curved horn on a white mare. A slippery fin cutting the ocean waves. A mysterious man of magical repute. Dark forms that creep in the night. Lost cities. Forgotten keys. Found doors.

At the heart of it all is Fern Capel, a young woman with hidden talents. When she moves into her family's newly inherited house, a string of anomalies give rise to questions. Her quest to find answers reveals a thin veil between the known world and the one beyond.

Jan Siegel's
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
There's something about the way Siegel writes, it's so vivid, and detailed, and often graphic, that you know if she ever put her mind to write a horror story Steven King would have some competition.
She can turn something beautiful into a painful memory in a moment, and unlike a lot of writers, she can really make you FEEL that pain. There's no escaping the depth of this writing... and the followng books in the series are the same.

I can say that I was not very happy with the ending of the serie
Josh Thompson
The first part of the book is excellent. Good characters, a great villain, and the makings of an interesting setting. To rate only that part, I would easily give it four to four and a half stars.

The second part of the book, however, is more of a let down. It is basically a completely different story, leaving out many of the elements and pieces that made the first part so great.

Prospero's Children is probably worth picking up for the first part alone. The author does use a rather diverse vocabul
May 11, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think my rating deserves some explanation. This is really one of the better books I've read in the adolescent fantasy genre, and at its beginning I found it both extremely imaginative and beautifully written. Seigel's takes on the some of the traditional fantasy creatures are lovely- I absolutely adored her characterization of the mermaid! She was obviously drawing on their darker, earlier origins while creating them, which is commendable, and gives the world a Brothers Grimm/folklore-ish atmo ...more
Donna Barth
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I admit, I'm a sucker for fantasy books that draw from the ancient mythologies around the world, and this does a fabulous job reimagining some iconic and lesser-known characters and places. I definitely liked the Yorkshire section better than the Atlantis section, though in theory it was a brilliant twist. It became a completely different genre in the space of a page, and I found myself oddly disconnected from the main character. Even though it was technically the same Fern from the first part o ...more
Olivia Muse
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge: a book you think should be turned into a movie.

Maybe I have rose colored glasses on for this one, but I have always loved this book. In the world of film, I think the pacing of the book would almost lend itself to horror, which I really love the idea of. Not likely to happen, but I think it would be cool.
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, fantasy, four-stars
I read this book a long time ago and I remember really liking it. So I picked it off the shelf when I was looking for something to read recently.

I don't know why there are so many bad reviews, the story was good, the characters were well developed (Rafarl is our Lord and Savior). )

For the most part though, I liked this book. Not sure if or when I’ll pick the second one up, but I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time when I was done, and I got through it pretty easily. In my opinion Arc I was a b
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book - it did not follow the standard intro-build-up-climax format of most fantasy novels, and I liked that that kept me guessing. My only qualm would be that at times the characters (or relationships between characters) felt a little bit flat. I will definitely be reading more by this author!
Pinchy's Pages (Jenn Harrison)
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
The story line was OK, it didn't really grab me. But the last page and a half, that brought the ENTIRE book together. I had to put the book down and go "Oh....."

Those last pages are going to make this book very memorable.
May 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My absolute favorite book of all time.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It was almost two stories joined in the middle but it played out perfectly in the end. Would definitely recommend it.
Tim Martin
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed, faerie
Prospero’s Children was a fun read, one that had a lot great elements that I like in fantasy (or genre) fiction; faeries, mythological creatures, Greco-Roman mythology, the feel of European folktales about the supernatural, mysterious deceased cousins who leave strange inheritances, lonely moors, ghosts, Atlantis, and time travel.

Time travel? Yeah...I will get to that in a minute. The opening of the book is very strong, gripping even, a pretty much dialogue-free prologue involving a storm-tosse
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Siegel was a completely new to me author when I picked this book up at the (semi)local used book store. I had seen it around for a bit, but for whatever reason I didn't pick it up until an idle Saturday afternoon. It caught my interest then with tales of a mermaid and Atlantis and a magical destiny. This isn't as old as I thought it was either--published originally in 1999, I thought this was from the 80's.

The beginning is simply captivating. The story begins with a mermaid who makes a bargain w
I love the fantastical elements of this story and Siegel's writing. I normally hate excessive detail in novels, but (with exception of the beginning of this novel) Siegel's writing rarely has unnecessary detail. [She has moments at the beginning that are just painful. At one point she gives two analogies to describe something and then elaborates on one of the analogies--all in the same sentence.] The details aren't necessary to understand the plot but they are to be immersed in the fantasy of th ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
At heart I am a stylist. If a book has a brilliant writing technique which will engross me I could read about anything and be awed. If the subject is innovative but is written poorly I will not be able to cope. This is obviously subjective but it made this novel a chore to work through. The language use appallingly verbose and flowery. This is not only unnecessary, it is very irritating to have this level and type of description needlessly given to everything. I feel she could definitely have us ...more
Nov 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an oldie but a goodie for me. I was waiting for some library books to come in and re-discovered this novel in my bookshelves.

If you haven't read anything by Jan Siegel, you must. This is the first of a trilogy. All three novels are quite different but equally interesting.

I especially like this novel for it's unusual take on the Atlantis story. Siegel is an expert when it comes to perfect description and immersion into a story.
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book the first time I read it and every time since. The writing is sooo wonderfully descriptive that I feel like I am there watching the whole book like a movie. Very well written and the fantasy is superb. Witches, Atlantis, demons and old gods. LOVE the names of all the characters and will re-read this trilogy along with other favorites like LOTR, Game of Thrones, my Dickens favs...forever.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is divided into two parts -
I really enjoyed the first part, focused on The Key. It is well-written, with rich vocabulary and beautiful phrasing, great pacing and suspense. The first half would get a 4.
The second half, focused on The Door, felt less... real. Fern conveniently just knows or senses where to go, what to do. Intense, emotion-ridden events like Fern & Raf's relationship are glossed over. It was not nearly as gripping or intriguing as the first half.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much! I can still remember when I first picked it up due to its interesting title and cover, I've re-read it so many times I lost count but it's still nice to remember some scene. Especially when it comes to the confusing parts.

A perfect blend of mermaids in the beginning to various creatures in the middle and an okay ending I gues. But I still love it regardless.
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Read this book a long time ago as a young adult and I absolutely loved it. Siegel is a beautiful writer and weaves the supernatural fabulously into the everyday.

This is the first in a trilogy but by far the best of the three.
Mar 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I remember I enjoyed this, but not why. I even bought the sequels, but have never got around to reading them... I think I read this at the tail-end of my great passion for fantasy fiction.
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Olive Ziegert
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Mermaids and the wonderful world of the deep. Different worlds pulling you in and out. This is a great book to read on a warm summer's evening and dream of what can be if only you let it. ...more
Matthew Samuels
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm not quite sure how to review Prospero's Children. I first read it when it came out, back in 1999 and was instantly immersed in the lush, vivid landscape of the English countryside as Fern and her brother Will explore the old house, gradually revealing its secrets, finding house goblins, wizards and witches before Fern's significant journey in the last third of the book.

Returning to it just over twenty years later has definitely changed my perspective. I wasn't such a fan of the second half
Patricia Bleecker
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Prospero's Children started out with a bang and immediately grabbed my interest. The first part of the book centers on a sister, Fern, and her brother after their father inherits his uncle's decrepit home somewhere in Yorkshire County, England. Magical things happen, mostly to Fern, who is coming into her Gift as a descendant of Atlantis. That part of the novel features a wizened sorcerer past his peak, a were-dog, a house goblin, and an evil spirit inhabiting a stone statute and his accomplice ...more
Silvio Curtis
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fern Capel, the main character, is a hard-headed teenager with a mildly annoying little brother and a widowered father. She has been managing the family's life with a view to making her own future as comfortable and conventional as possible. Then they inherit an old house in Yorkshire that has a number of uncanny things going on with it. The scenario is a bit like Over Sea, Under Stone but much, much spookier, especially since the Merriman/Gandalf-type wise wizard figure has no power to be of mu ...more
Wolfie Smoke
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of slow-paced and atmospheric writing.
This. Book. Was. Awesome.
A real work of art.

This is a beautifully crafted story told through excellent writing with a rich vocabulary. It's slow-paced and atmospheric, but there's also so much story compacted into a mere 350 pages. I feel like I've read a whole series, and yet I've only read the first book. It would be great for Urban and High fantasy fans since the story starts as an urban fantasy but includes more high fantasy elements as it goes along.

Even though I'm giving it five stars I di
Aug 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. In the beginning, I was a bit skeptical because the author made it a bit difficult to understand. She didn't paint a clear enough picture of the characters-using their titles and names at random- so it did take me a minute to place who was who. Also, she tended to jump around a bit, and it wasn't too hard to follow along with, but it was a bit frustrating. The middle was definitely confusing, but I could tell that was the point and added a fun bit of mystery. ...more
Frankie J
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I fell absolutely in love with this book, and I was pleasantly surprised. The first half starts off a little bit slow, but it slowly builds up and peaks your interest. The second half was so incredible I couldn't put it down. The way Jan writes is beyond describing.. she brings the words on the page to life! I can't wait to read more. I was very pleased with the main character's development as well. ...more
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Jan Siegel is a pseudonym of Amanda Hemingway. She is a British author of fantasy novels, best known for her Fern Capel and Sangreal trilogies.


Other books in the series

Fern Capel (3 books)
  • The Dragon Charmer (Fern Capel, #2)
  • The Witch Queen (Fern Capel, #3)

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“There was a long pause. “you know,” he went on, “I sometimes think mankind is dangerously arrogant. We do a few sums, and then claim we have the universe off pat. we measure the spaces between the stars, and declare them empty. We set a limit on infinity. We are like the occupants of a closed room; having worked out everything within the range of our knowledge, we announce that the room and its contents are all that exists. Nothing beyond. Nothing unseen or unknown, incalculable or neffable. This is it. And then every so often God lifts the veil—twitches the curtain—and gives us a glimpse, just a glimpse, of something more. As if He wishes to show us how narrow is our vision, how meaningless the boundaries we have set for ourselves. I felt that when Fern was talking. Just for a minute I though: This is truth, there’s a world beyond all the jargon of unbelief.” 5 likes
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