It starts when Cal gets off the train at the wrong stop in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere. He's stranded.
Following a muddy path leads him to a castle that appears to be deserted. But inside is Corbenic, a magnificent hotel filled with rich people preparing for a banquet—and Cal is their guest of honor. During the meal, he experiences a disturbing vision, but when he is asked to talk about what he has seen, he denies it. What if he's becoming crazy, like his mother?
When Cal wakes the next morning, the elegant castle turns out to be nothing more than an abandoned ruin. But something inside him has changed—he now knows he needs to right the wrongs in his life. It will be a difficult journey, and if Cal achieves his goal, it will not be without cost. The first step—he must return to Corbenic.
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Catherine Fisher's acclaimed works include Darkhenge, Snow-walker, and The Oracle Betrayed, which was a finalist for the Whitbread Children's Book Award. She lives in Newport, Wales.From School Library Journal:
Grade 7 Up–Seventeen-year-old Cal abandons his alcoholic, schizophrenic mother and shabby English town. On the train to his uncle's house in a posh suburb, he gets off at Corbenic, which he later learns is nonexistent. He makes his way to the court of the crippled Fisher King, who knows Cal is really Percival, the last hope to restore the king's wasteland to its former glory. When the teenager fails to identify a vision of the Holy Grail, he is banished back to modern England. Then, as the legend goes, he searches for Corbenic, but can only return when he comes to terms with the mother he's rejected. Along the way he meets Shadow and Hawk, Arthurian reenactors who may or may not be the real thing. The blurring of fantasy and reality is sometimes confusing but helps to sustain the mood of wonder and mystery. Both the real and surreal settings are lushly rendered, and Fisher's physical descriptions are especially evocative. The dialogue is sharp, but while Cal's conversations with Shadow and Hawk are natural and engaging, his inner monologue is repetitive and boring. Cal is drawn with a heavy hand as a materialistic, pretentious whiner, and while this portrait keeps to the myth, he's impossible for readers to care about. Minor characters are portrayed with subtle wit and sweetness and are unfortunately more compelling than the narrator or his quest. Though the plot moves steadily, those unfamiliar with the myth may find the journey tedious.–Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
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Book Description Red Fox, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000190460
Book Description Red Fox, UK, 2002. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. An elaborate and intricate reworking of the Grail legend. Bookseller Inventory # 023095
Book Description Random House, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110099438488