GUINEVERE’S GIFT by Nancy McKenzie


Age Range: 10 - 14
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McKenzie offers a tale that would have had more going for it were it not tied to the Arthurian legend. This is a prequel for Guinevere, not yet 13, ward of King Pellinore and his queen Alyse, and the companion of their daughter Elaine. A prophecy at her birth says that she will be married to a great king, but that doesn’t look remotely possible. There is a lot of slow setup until the climax, in which Alyse defends her castle with Pellinore away at battle at Arthur’s side and Guinevere rescues the abducted Elaine using her wits and the aid of a one-armed spy. The steely Alyse is the most fully realized character, and it’s hard to grasp why Guinevere remains loyal to the spiteful and manipulative Elaine. Guinevere and her gift with horses are vividly shown, but the dialogue rings shallow and modern with lines like “you’re beautiful when you’re angry” and “How can I ever thank you?” There’s also a group called “Earth’s Beloved,” which lives gently off the land, hides in the forests and protects Guinevere. This may find an audience, but they deserve richer fare. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-375-84345-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2007