Helen Lowe is a poet and a new fantasy writer, whose debut book, Thornspell, was published in 2008. She lives in New Zealand. She's currently writing a fantasy series called The Wall of Night (the first book of this series will be published soon).

Thornspell won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2009 for Best Novel (Young Adult) and was a Storylines Childrens' Literature Trust Notable Book 2009.

Helen Lowe's official website can be found here.

The official Thornspell website can be found here.


Thornspell is a charming, rich and well imagined retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. As everybody knows, Sleeping Beauty is a well known classic fairy tale, which tells about a sleeping princess and a prince who rescues her. Thornspell is different from the original fairy tale, because it's told from prince Sigismund's point of view – this brings new depth, freshness and sensuality to the story.

Helen Lowe's prose is lush and beautiful – her descriptions are vivid and poetic (it's a pleasure to read this kind of prose). She creates a living and breathing mythical world with her words and skillfully tranports the reader into this magical world.

Here's some information about the story:

Sigismund lives in the castle and isn't allowed to go outside of the castle yard, because his father wants to keep him safe. Outside the castle lies a great wood, which fascinates Sigismund. One day Margravine zu Malvolin comes to meet him and he becomes immediately sick. When he's sick, a mysterious woman comes to see him. She tells him about a princess, an echanted sleep and a palace. When Sigismund recovers from the sickness he gets guidance from a man called Balisan. He soon learns about fairies and other things... This is all I'm going to reveal about the story, because it wouldn't be fair to reveal everything.

Sigismund is a believable and interesting hero, who has dreams and hopes. His character development is handled exceptionally well (to be honest, I was surprised how well Helen Lowe wrote about Sigismund's life and feelings). The other characters are also interesting – it was fun to read about Balisan and other characters.

I think it's interesting that Thornspell contains references to the Grail quest. These references indicate that the story takes place in the distant past of our world. This adds additional depth to the story.

In my opinion Thornspell deserves more attention, because it's one of the most beautiful fairy tale books ever written. I think that everybody, who likes beautiful prose, romantic adventures and good stories, will love this book. There are several similar books, but Thornspell is clearly in a league of its own, because the quality of the writing is superb and the story is fascinating. There should be more books like this, because this kind of well written and old-fashioned fairy tales are simply fantastic and they have a timeless quality to them. I've always loved this kind of stories, so Thornspell made a huge impression on me.

Thornspell is a charming fairy tale for readers of all ages. It's a young adult book, but older readers will also love it (I'm sure that older readers will appreciate Helen Lowe's fine prose). Readers who love tales of princes and princesses, magic and fairies will be thrilled to read this book, because all these things (and much more) can be found in this book.

This book is so good that once you start reading it, it's almost impossible to put it down. Highly recommended!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

PS. After reading this book I can hardly wait to get my hands on Helen Lowe's second book (The Heir of Night, Book 1 of The Wall of Night series).

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