The Chestnut Soldier Booktalk
There were signs that something was going to happen. Gwyn's fingers burned like fire, and couldn't hold onto anything. He was at Nia's house, waiting for her, when the phone rang. Her little brother, Iolo, tried to answer it, but he dropped the receiver just as Nia came down the stairs. The three of them watched it swing from its cord as if it were a snake about to strike, unwilling to answer the deep, dark man's voice that came out of it. But Nia's older sister Catrin picked it up and talked to the man, who said he was their cousin Evan, and he was coming for a visit.
A few moments later, as Gwyn said goodbye to Nia and Iolo, he realized that the burning in his hands was gone, and somehow, his presence had kept Nia and Iolo from touching the phone, even though he had no idea why. The man had reached Catrin, but the other two were safe, at least for now. But something evil was about to happen, and Gwyn and Nia both knew it.
It was Nia who answered the door the evening Evan arrived, the most handsome man she had ever seen. He looked like the prince from every fairy tale she'd ever read—fierce, kind, and troubled. Nia had asked her mother about him, and knew that his brother had died in an accident when they were just boys. He had grown up to be a soldier, a major in the army. He'd been wounded, and needed to recover. But none of that explained the effect he had on her, on Catrin, on Iolo and on Gwyn. The three who'd feared his voice on the phone, and the one who spoke with him and didn't tell her parents about it, were now inexplicably drawn to him.
Why had he come? Gwyn's grandmother says it was to finish his story, but didn't explain what she meant. All Gwyn knew was that minutes after meeting Evan, his small statue of a horse mysteriously disappeared. It was one of the gifts his grandmother had given him four years before, when she told him he was a magician with extraordinary powers. It was the gift that Gwyn was never to use, and never to let anyone else see, for it held the spirit of a demon prince, who must never be set free. Yet now it was gone.
What evil is about to be unleashed upon the world? What does the mysterious soldier have to do with it? Why is he here? Is he responsible for the changes suddenly taking place in the village? And is there anything Gwyn can do to make his world safe again?
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.