Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Golden Cuckoo by Elizabeth Jasper

Publication date: 14th January 2013
Published by: Self Published
Fantasy fiction for children (9-13 yrs)

My synopsis:
Imagine a old-fashioned Swiss clock shaped like a chalet.  At the front, just below the thatched roof, is an arch-shaped little door, and just below that (above the clock's face) are two more arched doors side-by-side.  Through one door appears an old woman carrying a bunch of flowers, and through the door on the other side of her a man carrying an axe.  Through the door above them a cuckoo appears whenever the clock strikes.

This children's adventure begins when Eddie is repairing a broken clock, like the one I described above, in the presence of his older sister, Ella.  One minute he is gluing the feet of the cuckoo (so he can stick it back on the ledge of the clock) and the next he finds himself in darkness... on a ledge... inside the clock! Ella is stunned by the sudden disappearance of her brother.  Eddie understands that he is in the clock when the old woman and man appear in front of him, demanding to know where the cuckoo is.  They are mean to him and make him undress to prove it is not in his possession - which it isn't.  He realises he must have dropped it when whatever happened, happened.  Eddie is trapped in the clock being held prisoner by the old woman and man.

The story moves to Jake, a boy of about 13, who helps his mum buy and sell stuff at a car boot sale.  He wanders around the sale looking for anything of value that he can buy to sell on for a healthy profit.  Jake notices that his favourite vendour, a man he calls Fancy, is selling what looks like a doll's house in its original box.  On closer inspection he realises it is not a doll's house but a cuckoo clock and he loses interest.  Fancy is keen to sell it to him and, reluctantly after some bartering, he agrees to take it.

Later, back home while in his room with the clock, a girl about his age barges in asking for the clock back.  The girl is Ella and she is trying to get it back so she can find Eddie. Unfortunately, her dad sold it to Fancy and she has been tracking it down ever since.  She explains everything to Jake and they search for the cuckoo, which had fallen inside. Jake suggests that they repeat Eddie's actions before he disappeared - although he is not entirely convinced that Eddie is really inside the clock.  But, just in case, he says, "Don't touch the...".  Too late.  Ella and Jake both plummet into darkness and find themselves on a ledge inside the clock.....

 My review:
The Golden Cuckoo is a novella for children of pre-to-early teenage.  It is a page-turner of a read and I finished it in a matter of hours.  Jake and Ella find themselves in another world searching for Eddie and discover some shocking things going on, all orchestrated by a dark and dodgy character.  Jake and Ella's plan to rescue Eddie becomes a plan to right the wrong that is occurring.  They have the cuckoo and the more time they spend in the world, the more it seems to be changing before them.  Jake is quite the hero, facing danger and leading the way... hopefully to safety.

This novella read like a pilot to a potentially great series of fantasy novels.  It focuses more on character development, back story and the scenario than it does on drama and plot.  As a result, there are a lot of things that remain a mystery - which could potentially be solved later down the line (e.g. what is the cuckoo and why are the old woman and man so desperate to get their hands on it?). I enjoyed it so much it left me wanting more.

Since it is a page-turner and quick read, it is a great one to introduce to a child who is a reluctant reader.  

This one is part of my indie author showcase and one I consider to be a hidden treasure - the second by this author, which tells me Elizabeth Jasper is one to watch out for.


  1. Thank you, Susan. I really appreciate your review and you are right, it sets the scene for further magical stories aimed at the same readership.