Orientella by Elisabeth Vildstjärna introduces Madame Castel, a woman who loves Christmas. As the story starts, she is preparing for Christmas. It is the First of Advent and Emilia and her mum who live on the floor below are coming for coffee and cake. Then a strange voice calls at the entrance and Madame Castel answers in French and they speak about a valuable golden box. In that mysterious moment a lot of things happen and Madame Castel disappears. Now Orientella and her friends must find her. But where must they start?
This is a wonderful story that is filled with magic. The language has a spell of its own and the narrative is delivered with extraordinary skill, taking readers on an exciting ride as they follow Orientella and her companions on a strange world, facing mythical creatures, unravelling riddles, and facing untold challenges on a quest to uncover the fate of their friend. Vildstjärna has the uncanny ability to create strong imagery, combining pulsating drama with descriptions that are vivid and that bring things to life in this magical tale. Here is a short description that is infused with that dramatic effect, and the writing brims with such instances: “Finally, a cliff just rose up in front of me. The fog lifted. And there ... There, with the sea as a backdrop, and out on the jagged rock, rose a big castle. It was so beautiful, with its high towers and arched windows that I had to rub my eyes. A real fairy tale Castle it was!” The narrative voice captivates the readers and has a charm that compels the reader to sail through the pages, wondering at what happens next. Characters, both human and not, are wonderfully crafted and the interactions of the characters with Frizzle the cat are nothing but mesmerizing. Children and adults will find this tale immersive, but what makes it stand out are lessons in friendship, grit, and exploring new depths in the humanity of the characters. Superior storytelling, a captivating protagonist with an irresistible voice, and adventure await you in these pages.