Books by Carol Hughes

Carol Hughes learned all about great fantasy growing up in England. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters. The author lives in Los Angeles, CA.


THE PRINCESS AND THE UNICORN by Carol Hughes
ADVENTURE
Released: Feb. 24, 2009

"(Fantasy. 8-12)"
Very pink, definitely didactic—the lessons here always loom larger than the story—but still a rather sweet read withal. Princess Eleanor, age ten, is heir to the English throne and can see fairies, although she is under the thumb of a governess misnamed Merrie, who clearly has other stuff on her mind. Joyce, the young fairy Eleanor espies, loves to fly even though such activity is deeply frowned upon in her fairy village of Swinley Hope. When Eleanor comes across the unicorn that keeps Swinley Forest alive, she takes him back to the palace, not knowing that the land and the unicorn cannot survive apart. Meanwhile, the governess hatches a nefarious plan to make her fortune by selling the unicorn to a few ugly American researchers. Rather nifty battles of the action-movie type ensue, with combatants human and fairy, and both worlds reach a better understanding. Joyce and Eleanor are both plucky girls with imagination; Merrie is an EEE-vil caricature. Possibly charming, certainly twee. Read full book review >
DIRTY MAGIC by Carol Hughes
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 24, 2006

Joe is a frustrated older brother with a sister who gets into everything, including his models and Monster Magazines. Totally disgusted, he finally exclaims, "I wish you were dead!" and it looks as though his wish will come true when he wakes to find his sister vanished and his room turned into a muddy, rainy world. This land is ruled by three sisters beset by hatred and the use of war machines developed by "dirty inventor's magic." Here a fetcher, Katherine, arrives to lead him to safety and a guide named Spider. A blind man, Spider has magical abilities and, while Joe must be his eyes, Spider must give Joe clues about people and the route of their journey. In peril, Joe's ignorance of the kingdoms at war is balanced by his knowledge of mechanics, sense of direction and self-reliance. Sickened by the misuse of power and the abuse of children, he plays a critical role in the fate of the two kingdoms. Eventually, he comes to understand that "people are more important than things," as the intrigue of this fantasy world affects both him and the reader. (Fantasy. 10-14)Read full book review >
TOOTS UNDERGROUND by Carol Hughes
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

Hughes fails to deliver on a promising premise in this thin sequel to Toots and the Upside-Down House (1997). Once again, young Toots shrinks down to combat Evil with her rotund, fly-sized fairy friend Olive. A malicious waspgnat is choking the entire garden with thorny, fast-growing underground furze, and the fairies are powerless to stop it. Only Toots—who, as it eventually turns out, was responsible for attracting it in the first place with ungenerous thoughts—can overcome the waspgnat, by destroying the jewel-like "olm" that is the root of its power. After a tedious plot padded with a pointless scene in which Toots temporarily forgets her mission, extraneous encounters with a pair of maggots who Won't Grow Up, and much aimless wandering through worm tunnels, Toots at last does the deed. She silently forgives her friend Jemma for having a secret, which Hughes never does get around to revealing. Talk about anticlimactic. The waspgnat makes a thoroughly nasty adversary, but its vanquishing is so contrived and long in coming that fans of Hughes's pageturner Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves (2000) will wonder if the same author wrote both. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
JACK BLACK AND THE SHIP OF THIEVES by Carol Hughes
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

With an airy disregard for internal logic or realistic detail, Hughes (Toots and the Upside-Down House, not reviewed) flogs an array of colorful characters and situations into a patched-together, whirlwind adventure featuring giant air- and ocean-going ships, dashing aeronauts of both sexes, an exploding island, treachery, (weak) comic relief, and a doughty lad at the center of it all. Scarcely has the first voyage of the great dirigible Bellerophon begun before young Jack catches wind of a bomb plot, then falls from a hatch toward the distant Polar Sea before he can unmask the conspirators. Fortunately, he lands safely in the sails of a passing ship. Unfortunately, the ship is bombarded by the Nemesis, a fully automated rogue battleship. But, for some reason a well-timed electrical storm forces the Nemesis to withdraw . . . and so it goes, at a headlong clip, to the climactic, violent destruction of the robot ship, and the rescue of the crashed Bellerophon's crew. As the author repeatedly gets Jack into a pickle, then trots out some wild coincidence or arbitrary device to extract him, any suspense or sense of danger is but momentary, and unlike Jack, readers will figure out who the villains are without much trouble. With all the huge machines and intrepid deeds, there are hints of grandeur here, along with surprisingly little explicit violence (the lesser of the two bad guys is boiled alive: the major one just ends up in jail, which seems unfair). But there's little of the imaginative flair that characterizes the novels this models: the science fantasies of Jules Verne and Philip Pullman. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >