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A fairy-tale infused historical novel for adults set in the late 18 th century, moving between Imperial China and France during the ‘Terror’ of the French Revolution, and inspired by the true story of a quest for a blood-red rose.

The novel will draw upon ‘The Blue Rose,’ a fairy tale set in China about a quest for an impossible rose.

Inspiration Behind The Starkin Crown

The first book I wrote for children was The Starthorn Tree.

I wrote it when my first son was only very young, and in the period before and after my second son’s birth, so it was a time when my life was changing in all sorts of beautiful and exhausting ways.

What I wanted to do with The Starthorn Tree was write a book like the ones I had so loved when I was a kid.

Books filled with adventure and action. Sword fights and desperate escapes down secret passages and wild gallops through the forest.

Books filled with puzzles and mysteries that need to be solved. Books that keep you up late reading when you’re meant to be asleep, books filled with suspense and surprise.

Books filled with wonder and enchantment and magic and just a touch of romance. Books that made you wish you lived in that world.

At first I planned to write just one book, but one night I couldn’t get back to sleep after getting up to look after my newborn baby son. It was very late at night, and all was dark. The rest of the world was sleeping. It was a wild, wet, stormy night, and I could hear the wind howling about the house, and the trees swaying and bending and rattling their branches, sending strange shadows scuttling around the room. I got out my notebook and began to work on a scene near the end of The Starthorn Tree, a scene where my four heroes must face the very real possibility of failure and death.

I was so tired that my spirit felt adrift from my body. I was in that half-world between waking and sleeping, the place where thoughts drift into dreams and dreams into darkness. One of my heroes – a boy called Durrik who could utter prophecies – suddenly began to speak. He foretold that there would be three generations of heroes, three adventures before peace could at last be won. I saw those three heroes very clearly in my mind’s eye. One was Durrik himself, the next would be his son (Merry, the hero of The Wildkin’s Curse)and the third his grandson.

I saw Peregrine, the hero of The Starkin Crown, that night, as clearly and vividly as if he stood before me. I saw him blind and stumbling through a marsh. I saw him riding a steed of storm, galloping over a wild landscape lit up by flashes of lightning. And I saw him kneeling with a glowing crown in his hands.

So, you see, the story of Prince Peregrine was a gift to me, out of dreams and shadows and storm. You cannot manufacture inspiration like that. You just have to be grateful for it and do your best to give the story life.

Prince Peregrine is heir to not just one crown, but two – he is his country’s only hope for peace and the end to the civil war which has torn it apart for years. Yet because he’s so important, his parents want to keep him safe and so whenever danger threatens he is sent off somewhere safe and boring. Peregrine longs for adventure.

One day a mysterious messenger arrives at the castle. It’s a starkin girl – one of the enemies – but she comes to warn Peregrine’s family of danger. An army is coming to besiege them. Peregrine is made to flee. Yet somehow he and his parents are betrayed, the castle falls to its attackers, and there’s only Peregrine left to try and rescue his parents and save the crown.

He has only twelve days to try and find the lost spear of the Storm King and raise the wild magical powers of Lord Grim if he is to save his family and his country.



‘There’s a reason that Forsyth is so acclaimed in the YA world: she’s very, very good indeed … The Starkin Crown is the type of adventure story that I would have devoured greedily as a younger reader, and one that I’d happily lose myself in today.”

Read more:


‘I absolutely loved The Starkin Crown and if you are an avid fantasy reader you will love it too.’ Momo, Celebrating Time to Read


“This is a rollicking fantasy with three young heroes at the centre, who encounter fearsome beasts, murder, betrayal in their desperate desire to protect what is right and save the ones they love most.” Deb Abela, author of the Max Remy spy books

‘Strong well-rounded characters make this another exciting page-turner.’ HearWriteNow