Elspeth Gordie and her brother Jes were left orphans after their parents were burnt for Sedition. Living in one of the many council orphan homes, Elspeth attempts to keep her mental abilities secret when Madam Vega comes from Obernewtyn to seek out Misfits among the orphans. Elspeth is discovered as a Misfit, however she manages to conceal the extent of her abilities. She is sent to Obernewtyn where she works in the kitchen and on the farm and hesitantly begins to form new friendships. However something isn't right at Obernewtyn. Who is the Master of Obernewtyn? Why does Ariel hold such as high status? What are the treatments being administered by the Doctor and what have they done to Selmar?
Isobelle Carmody is a prominent Australian Young Adult author and I really do have no idea why I never picked up any of her books sooner. I won't deny that the new book covers caught my eye and I bought the first book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles on an impulse. This first book in the series has not made me regret that impulse purchase.
Carmody began to work on Obernewtyn when she was only fourteen and it was first published in 1987. It is not exactly long or heavy reading at 245 pages but the following books appear to get progressively longer. The book begins with a brief history of how things came to be, telling us that there was the Great White followed by the formation of the Council and their joining forces with the religious Herder Faction. While I thought that was better than having Elspeth gives us all a big history lesson, I felt that it was in little ways such as the hinted upcoming Changing and the speech given by the Councilman that Carmody gave us the best picture of the attitude Misfits and how it impacts on Elspeth and those like her. I quite liked Elspeth as a narrator. Carmody has created an interesting world without making it unnecessarily complicated and I enjoyed exploring it with Elspeth and look forward to learning more about it in the following books. In terms of her forming relationships with other characters, I thought that she was appropriately withheld seeing as in the orphan homes creating bonds could cause unwanted attention and was discouraged by the system of Changing, moving orphans around from one home to another. That said, overall I found the "good guys" to be very likeable and the "bad guys" appropriately dislikeable.
There are other things that I would comment on such as certain moments and certain characters that I really liked but I would hate to spoil anything in this book for anyone. I'll definitely be getting stuck into the sequels sometime soon.
Oh, and on a completely random note, spell check corrections suggested for the word 'Obernewtyn':