Two siblings search for a magical flower that will rouse their sister from her mystical slumber.
One day while exploring a nearby forest, siblings Jochen, Natalie and Bärbel discover weird, wonderful black flowers. Beautiful and elegant, the black flowers also exude an aura of horrible evil. Cousin Thorsten, who is accompanying the siblings, relates the legend of Schoenboeck, a powerful magician who laid a curse on the flowers—anyone who approached them would fall into a never-ending sleep. The only way to lift the curse is by using the alabaster roses that Schoenboeck keeps inside his castle, Drachrosenstein. When none of the others are looking, 6-year-old Bärbel gathers a few of the black flowers and instantly falls asleep. Jochen and Natalie determine that they will rescue Bärbel by finding the castle and bringing back the alabaster roses. As the adventure begins, like Alice in Wonderland, Jochen and Natlie are whisked into an enchanted otherworld where they meet an old man who gives them a magic locket that will show them the way to the castle. But others want the locket, especially the dark magician Gorkievich, who needs it to consummate his power and will do anything to obtain it. Jochen and Natalie venture forth, confronting fire-breathing dragons, mysterious caves, magic mirrors and impenetrable labyrinths. As Jochen and Natalie advance from one harrowing incident to another, Schoeffner interweaves fantastic action with overformal dialogue, like something from a Lovecraftian tale. The magicians, although supernaturally powerful, don’t have much of a chance against the two young siblings whose innocence and luck, along with a quixotic attitude, combine to make them invincible. Schoeffner’s command of the English language is, on the one hand, remarkable, employing multisyllabic words of erudition and sophistication. On the other hand, it’s evident that English is not the author’s native tongue because sentence structures exhibit less refinement and the book’s formatting, particularly the widespread, unconventional use of dashes to set off dialogue, is somewhat vexing. However, once the reader gets a handle on the unique prose and formatting, they don’t prove to be problems and even add a certain charm to the story.
A typical fantasy tale of magic and monsters, with enough freshness to keep the pages turning.