Reread from my young adulthood here – Wise Child came out when I was ten, and I believe I received it for the Christmas somewhere in that vicinity. I’ll admit to a certain degree of trepidation going into this reread, as I really wasn’t sure how the books were going to hold up. But they held up well, and the really funny thing is that my feeling about these books really closely mirrored Karen Cushman’s, in the forward she wrote for Colman (which was published after the author’s death). The other funny thing is that I read Colman as an adult, long after I’d read the other two books, and I remember not liking it as much, but in this reread, I definitely appreciated it more.
Wise Child is the story of a girl in a Scottish island village. She’s living with her grandmother because her father is away at sea, and when her grandmother suddenly dies, she has no one to take her in, except Juniper, the village wise woman. Of course, Juniper is widely believed to be a witch, and Wise Child is initially afraid to go stay with her. But she finds that Juniper can teach her many things, and she’s really not frightening at all. She’s also not a witch, but a doran, a person that can see and use power, and Wise Child could be one too.
Juniper is the story of Juniper’s childhood – she’s actually a princess in Cornwall, and she meets Wise Child’s father during this time period. It’s an interesting contrast to the Juniper you meet in Wise Child, because she’s a very different person when she’s young.
Colman is Wise Child’s cousin, and when for reasons I will not go into, Wise Child and Juniper need to leave Scotland, he goes with them. They go to Cornwall, where they find that an old enemy has taken Juniper’s brother, the rightful King, hostage, and they must save him.
I really love this series because of the first book. Juniper’s house is just the most wondrous sounding place, and I think I wanted to be Wise Child when I first read the book, because the house sounded so amazing. The first two books seem very short with my now adult eyes, but they’re the perfect size for the age I was when I first read them. Colman is actually a slightly richer story, but it was written later, and at the end of the author’s life, so I think she wanted to make sure things were wrapped up. They’re a great trilogy, and I’m really thankful they held up to an adult reread.