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The Silver Bowl Hardcover – April 26, 2011
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“An accomplished storyteller, Stanley uses her singular gifts to craft a remarkable historical fantasy. Combining carefully chosen details of setting with a richly realized fantasy premise, Stanley succeeds in creating a believable world large enough to accommodate not only menace and evil but also loyalty, enduring friendship, and love.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Veteran Stanley concocts a delicious blend of familiar fairy-tale motifs and intriguing, well-rounded characters to create an engaging fantasy. A most worthy and enjoyable entry in the ‘feisty female’ fantasy genre.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Adventure, magic, subtle romance, betrayal, and monstrous curses take this book far beyond the typical scullery-maid-makes-good tale.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“A versatile and inventive raconteur, Stanley (Bella at Midnight) nimbly weaves intrigue and fantasy into this richly layered story set in medieval times.” (Publishers Weekly)
“[T]he pacing is masterful, with new information and character development doled out in exactly the right doses, intercut with thrilling escapes and clever plots...a satisfying yarn of loyalty rewarded and mutual understanding gained.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
Praise for Saving Sky: “The main characters are well rendered and likable, and, in her portrayal of the earth-centered, nurturing Brightman family, Stanley succeeds in delivering the message that hope trumps fear.” (School Library Journal)
Praise for Saving Sky: “This page-turner skillfully captures the irrational fear of a public under siege while giving kids a modern-day, almost-just-like-them female hero who champions hope. Inspiring.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Praise for Bella at Midnight: “Once begun, it will be hard to put down.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
Praise for Bella at Midnight: “More than a reworking of the familiar, this is a 21st-century fairy-tale, throughly enjoyable in its own right.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
Praise for Bella at Midnight: Stanley subtly twists strands of the Cinderella story until it’s something quite new and fine.“ (Booklist (starred review))
Praise for Bella at Midnight: “Fans of fairy tale retellings will enjoy the fanciful twists in familiar territory, and long remember this engaging heroine, destined for a happily-ever-after life.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
From the Back Cover
Unwanted at home, Molly goes to work for the king of Westria as a humble scullery maid. She arrives at the castle with no education, no manners, and a very disturbing secret: She sees visions, and those visions always come true.
One day, while she's working in the king's great hall, young Prince Alaric passes by. Molly finds him unbearably handsome—but also unbearably rude. But what does it really matter? She'll probably never see him again.
In time Molly is promoted to polishing silver and is given a priceless royal treasure to work on: the king's great ceremonial hand basin. But there's something odd about it. The silver warms to her touch, a voice commands her to watch and listen, and then the visions appear. They tell the story of a dreaded curse that has stalked the royal family for years. There have already been deaths; soon there will be more.
As tragedy after tragedy strikes the royal family, Molly can't help but wonder: Will the beautiful Alaric be next? Together with her friends Tobias and Winifred, Molly must protect the prince and destroy the curse. Could a less likely champion be found to save the kingdom of Westria?
Top customer reviews
this is a review of my second reading of this book. It sat on my shelf for a few years before I got around to re reading it.
It's a decent written story with a good enough plot that I kept it .Sadly it really somewhat forgettable (no, really, 2 days later I can't remember it !) .
I would gauge that It's 4-6th grade reading interest, as it has a strong female character,mild intrigue, mystery & a very small bit of romance. (friendship that grows into a deeper affection).
I'll keep it because there are so few non depressing books & fewer still that nave no objectionable material , it will go back on my shelf of books as it's a nice little adventure book that I don't have to have regrets about giving a grandkid
Except--it turns out the royal family has been cursed, and the irrepressible Molly learns she has a strange connection to the events of the cursing. But first the king and his sons suffer greatly, until the entire castle worries what might happen next. And Molly starts seeing more visions in the great silver bowl she has been assigned to polish by Thomas, the keeper of the castle's silver. Molly had believed what she was told as a child, that her mother was crazy, but was she really just a witch? And is Molly a witch, too?
When things get bad for Prince Alaric, Molly and Tobias take a series of huge risks to protect him. I like the way their cleverness and practicality makes them perfectly capable of handling a horrible situation. Under pressure, Molly and her friend's qualities shine like polished silver.
Part mystery, part fairy tale, part reconciliation of class differences, The Silver Bowl is altogether satisfying as the pieces come together. Molly uses her visions from the bowl to help solve the mystery, though she has difficulty figuring out who the true villain might be, to her great peril. Fortunately, Tobias is there to help, and even Alaric begins to contribute usefully and a bit more humbly to their plans. Stanley builds suspense as Alaric becomes the last royal standing and his common-born friends turn out to be the only ones capable of saving his throne from his greedy cousins and the shadowy figure of the curse-maker.
Here's an excerpt from a scene early in the book, when Tobias takes Molly upstairs in the castle:
"'We must be silent as ghosts, Molly. And if one of them should come into the room, look down in a very respectful manner, and do not meet their eyes, for they don't wish to be reminded we are about.'
'Why? If I had a castle full of servants, I'd be glad to be reminded of it.'
'Well, they are not. We are as common as lice to them, and just as interesting.'"
Diane Stanley's message about valuing those who seem to have less social value doesn't distract from the sweep of her storytelling in this well-written fantasy. I recommend it to fans of books like Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted, Shannon Hale's Princess Academy, and Jessica Day George's Princess of the Midnight Ball.
Note for Worried Parents: The Silver Bowl is being marketed for teens (YA), perhaps because of a handful of grisly deaths and some peril, along with the eventual ages of the protagonists, but it reads as upper middle grade (MG) to me.