Curtain of Mist, by M. Pardoe, for Timeslip Tuesday

Curtain of Mist, by M. Pardoe, is an old one from the UK--1956.  It is a classic timeslip story, of three children and their tutor who slip through time to ancient Britain just before the invation of the Romans.  It starts so beautifully, with the three kids (boy, girl, boy) trying to adjust to life in the Scottish castle of their grandparents, and their new tutor arriving to try to catch them up to a British standard of education (they'd lived in the South Pacific with their parents before this, thought the oldest two had been to school already in England).   And the youngest brother has made friends with a strange boy from the past called Cymbel, who he has met through a thin spot in the fabric of time.

It's not clear which of the two boys is slipping from their own time, but it is very intriguing and vividly clear and I was so looking forward to more tension between past and present, tensions between lessons and the outdoors, and tensions between grandparents and somewhat untamed children.

Then-RATS.  The three kids and the tutor all time travel for real back to Cybel's home time of late Iron Age Britain, where it turns out he is a prince of a domain far to the south who has run away from being schooled on the holy island of Iona.  And this would be ok, with the modern folks coping with life in the past, but instead being an  interesting story, the book turns almost 80% didactic, and Teaches about Celtic Britain.  Sometimes flickers of story and character would emerge briefly, only to be swallowed by descriptive details again.  .

I was really frustrated. The first thirty pages or so were so darn enticing.  Probably if I had read it as the young Celtophile I was back in the day, my youthful imagination would have filled in the story to make a satisfying read for myself.  But that ship has sailed, and I will sadly shelf this one in my time slip shelf, never to be read again.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting concept but I think I'll take a pass on this one. Thanks for the honest review.


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