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Good Literature for Children & Adults

Galaxy Craze - By the Shore & The Last Princess

Galaxy Craze - By the Shore & The Last Princess When I saw the listing for The Last Princess, a new novel, by Galaxy Craze I was very pleased. I remembered this author not only for her memorable name, (and it is her real name, the daughter of hippies) but also for her debut novel By the Shore, published in 1999. By the Shore was written for adults, but it is a book I often recommend to older teens. I have just re-read it and loved it as much again as I did when it was first published. A young woman, Lucy, and her children, a pre-teen daughter, May, and a much younger son, Eden, have moved from London to a seaside tourist town. The mother has bought an old girl’s school and is running it as a tourist home. The relationship between Lucy and her daughter is the centre of the story, and the emotions of this young teen in a changing family situation. As a maturing May begins to observe and understand herself she also begins to see Lucy as more than simply a mother, but as an individual with a life of her own.

The Last Princess is a completely different cup of tea! It is not 1999 anymore and most fiction for teens is pretty dismal these days – dystopian novels full of violence and sex. In my opinion these books are being marketed to, and read by, children who are far too young for the content. I know, I know, they see worse on the television news – but still I look for books for teens that have something hopeful to offer, as well as being well written and thought provoking. The Last Princess fits the bill. The opening scene is of an idyllic picnic in the English countryside, a mother and daughter, a quiet time before the birth of a new baby. But tragedy strikes when the mother is offered a piece of fruit – and is poisoned. And we enter a world like our own but completely different. The earth has withstood catastrophic events – volcanoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters – there is no clean water, no fuel, no communication between England and the rest of the world. Plants will not grow and there is a renegade leader building an army to overthrow the King of England and to kill the royal children. Mary, who may one day be Queen, Eliza the younger sister and our heroine, and James the sickly baby brother born as his mother died.

Eliza must be the one to rescue her siblings and to conquer their foes. There is enough killing and horror to satisfy those who want it – but not too much for more timid readers such as myself. Galaxy Craze has created a fantastic world with enough reality to make us feel at home – the family flees to Balmoral in Scotland, there is mention of ancestors – Princess Diana and Princess Kate, whose dresses may be worn by Mary and Eliza. There are prisoners in the Tower of London, and wonderful descriptions of the city of London, battered but still dignified as it was during the last World War. And the novel ends with a sense that they can hope for a better future!

Two completely different novels, one terrific writer!

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