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The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien
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The Silver Crown (1968)

by Robert C. O'Brien

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 13 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This is one of my favourite books and one I have reread many times. As a child I was completely captivated by it. It is a great chase story and it is dark and sinister. From the first few frightening pages to the last it is a real page turner.

The mysterious man who pursues Ellen across the United states is a troubling character and the introduction of Otto who joins her in her adventure is just perfect.

I have purchased this for the children of friends over the years and all have loved it. ( )
  RachelMeehan | Aug 8, 2013 |
I have loved this book since I was a small child. I reread it many times growing up and it really struck a chord and captivated me.
The eerieness of the writing and the language that O'Brien uses to describe action and detail is simple but at the same time, riveting.
The Hieronymus cult story is fascinating and sinister and I still associate many things I see or hear with this book.
I have always thought this would make a great movie- I really wish they would consider it. ( )
  SusannahPK_83 | Feb 22, 2013 |
Readers of this book should be aware that the British and American editions end completely differently. (SPOILERS FOLLOW....) In the British edition, the bad guys really kill people. In the American edition, everyone who's been believed dead is found safe and sound at the end, making the story somewhat nonsensical in retrospect. In 1988 Aladdin Paperbacks printed an edition with two last chapters, one of each version -- but, unfortunately, the changes in the ending cover two chapters, not one, so that only made the British last chapter appear to make less sense than the American last chapter. The British edition of the story is good. The bowlderized American edition is, at best, really weird. ( )
  dixonm | Jul 10, 2012 |
Robert C. O’Brien’s The Silver Crown opens with one of the most charming first sentences I have ever encountered:

She had known all along that she was a queen, and now the crown proved it.

Things do not remain lighthearted for long, however. Having found the silver crown on her pillow on the morning of her tenth birthday, Ellen wanders out to a nearby park in order to hold court with her imaginary subjects. When she returns, she finds that her house has burned down. No one escaped, the authorities say. Ellen, homeless and friendless, resolves to hitchhike all the way to Lexington, Kentucky, where her beautiful Aunt Sarah lives.

This is not as easy as it sounds, however, for the crown seems to have magical properties, and a band of men in dark suits and green hoods are looking for it—and, by extension, Ellen. She finds danger at every turn. But she also finds help in the form of some new friends, including the mysterious Mrs. Fitzpatrick, a kindly woodcarver named (predictably) Mr. Carver, and the boy Otto, who accompanies her on her journey. But even with his assistance, will Ellen be able to reach Aunt Sarah? And what will be the fate of the silver crown?

One of the blurbs on the back cover calls the book “reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings,” but it is Tolkienesque only to the extent that any epic journey with unlikely heroes is Tolkienesque. Based on the flavor of the opening chapter, I thought that Tolkien’s colleague C. S. Lewis would make for a better comparison, but that isn’t quite right, either. While reading I was reminded more of George MacDonald (Mrs. Fitzpatrick especially is right out of a MacDonald fairy tale, believe me), Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising (due mostly to the dark, almost apocalyptic tone, and the way in which both stories seem to take place almost but not quite in the real world), and even Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (because … well, I won’t give too much away here).

For the most part, I enjoyed the novel. The middle section, detailing Ellen and Otto’s hike across the countryside was especially exciting, and the strange men made for wonderfully menacing villains. There were times during this part of the book where I found myself biting my fingernails, not something I normally do. And the characters are nicely developed. Otto is particularly complex, and a welcome change from the annoyingly perfect children that populate a lot of fantasy fiction.

Unfortunately, however, I have to agree with a review I read, which said that the last third of the book—starting from the point when Ellen enters the castles—feels like a completely different book. Looking back, I can see how O’Brien had been setting up for this conclusion throughout, but it was still too big a shift in tone for me. And even though Ellen finds herself battling against world domination, the threat didn’t feel very real. Indeed, the concept of training children to do evil—just for the sake of doing evil—seems rather silly in this context. And neither of the two denouements provided is particularly satisfying: one is little more than an info-dump, while the other, if anything, leaves too much unexplained.

I am glad I read this, but I don’t think I’ll ever read it again. And that makes me sad, because the book had so much potential, and would have been truly great if it hadn’t floundered near the end. ( )
1 vote ncgraham | Dec 20, 2010 |
Review posted at RomancingThePage.com by Laura Lynn:

http://www.romancingthepage.com/2010/08/18/the-silver-crown-youth-fiction-at-its...

My kids and I recently read “The Silver Crown” by Robert C. O’Brien and loved it. Intended for kids 8 and older, “The Silver Crown” is the story of Ellen who wakes up on her tenth birthday to find a silver crown on her pillow.

As Ellen already believes she is a queen, she takes the gift in stride and proudly wears it to the park. Events from that moment on are not what she expects. Her house burns down, she witnesses a crime and she sets off on foot to find her Aunt Sara.

The story follows Ellen as she makes friends with a boy named Otto and heads off on a hero’s quest. We see her go from a silly girl who imagines herself in a palace, sitting on a throne, to a real queen responsible for the well being of an entire castle.

There are many reasons to enjoy this story. Ellen is vulnerable and likeable, so you really root for her to find Aunt Sara. Otto is spunky and in true hero’s quest form, guides Ellen towards her destiny. The adults shown in the book fall into two categories, those who are nice and will help you, and those who are evil and you must avoid. If only things were that simple.

As a caution, some of the content may not be suitable for young kids who easily get nightmares. Ellen does encounter an adult who tries to hurt her, so parents should be aware of that content.

“The Silver Crown” was enjoyed by my family, and in fact my son wanted to read it again. If you are looking for a solid story with a happy ending and empowering message, this book will fit the bill ( )
  RomancingThePage | Aug 22, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert C. O'Brienprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Payson, DaleIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Ellen awakens one morning with a mysterious silver crown on the pillow beside her. What magic powers it possesses she has not yet discovered, but the sudden changes in her life are unmistakable: her house is burned down, her family has disappeared, and a man in a dark uniform is stalking her. Can Ellen ever find her family? Can she use the power of the silver crown to thwart the powers of darkness? What diabolical force hides inside the mysterious castle in the woods?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689841116, Paperback)

Ellen awakens one morning with a mysterious silver crown on the pillow beside her. What magic powers it possesses she has not yet discovered, but the sudden changes in her life are unmistakable: her house is burned down, her family has disappeared, and a man in a dark uniform is stalking her. Can Ellen ever find her family? Can she use the power of the silver crown to thwart the powers of darkness? What diabolical force hides inside the mysterious castle in the woods?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:49 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Soon after waking up on her tenth birthday to find a silver crown on her pillow, Ellen's house burns down, her parents disappear, and she is launched on an adventure involving a trek through the woods, a castle full of brainwashed captives, and the powerful Hieronymus Machine which wants her crown.… (more)

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