The Silver Bowl, by Diane Stanley, was published in 2011 by HarperCollins.
Unwanted at home, Molly goes to work for the king of Westria as a humble scullery maid. She arrives at the castle with no education, no manners, and a very disturbing secret: She sees visions, and those visions always come true. One day, while she’s working in the king’s great hall, young Prince Alaric passes by. Molly finds him unbearably handsome—but also unbearably rude. But what does it really matter? She’ll probably never see him again. In time Molly is promoted to polishing silver and is given a priceless royal treasure to work on: the king’s great ceremonial hand basin. But there’s something odd about it. The silver warms to her touch, a voice commands her to watch and listen, and then the visions appear. They tell the story of a dreaded curse that has stalked the royal family for years. There have already been deaths; soon there will be more. As tragedy after tragedy strikes the royal family, Molly can’t help but wonder: Will the beautiful Alaric be next? Together with her friends Tobias and Winifred, Molly must protect the prince and destroy the curse. Could a less likely champion be found to save the kingdom of Westria?
I try to read books as continuously and as smoothly as possible and unfortunately, my reading of The Silver Bowl was broken up by me heading to a school retreat for a couple of days. Then further readings were marred by my tiredness from said retreat. However, while I think that break in reading did slightly negatively affect my overall thoughts about the book, I honestly don’t think it was by very much.
The Silver Bowl is an interesting book. There are two different tones throughout, which are odd and jarring to read: there’s the “adventure time” tone, which is a little more informal, and then there’s the “let’s get down to the plot” tone, which becomes much more formal, especially near the end. I also found it jarring how Molly narrates without any trace of dialect unless it’s the word “something,” in which case it becomes “summat.” Why just that one word? Why include it at all when Molly has no other equivalent verbal dialect?
I also found the part towards the end where Molly goes into the bowl rather out of place and cheesy. All of a sudden, she’s striding around thinking of weak spots and analyzing enemies like she’s a video game character. It’s especially strange since up until that point she portrays no interest or skill in fighting.
The rest of the book I don’t really remember. As I said, my reading of it was broken up and the last half of it I read while tired and drifting, so my impression of it didn’t stick (or the book wasn’t particularly memorable). Mostly I found The Silver Bowl odd, uneven in tone, and jarring in way too many places.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Warnings: Some violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Soon I felt the tingling beneath my fingers. The silver began to grow warm. How long before the voice would start telling me to listen, to pay attention, to—?
“Listen!” it said. “Pay attention! There is not much time.”
As before, the pattern began to grow misty and melt before my eyes until gradually an image was revealed. It was blurry at first, as when you look at the world with tears in your eyes. But quickly it settled and sharpened.