A fast-paced, satisfying capper to a trilogy that’s sure to enchant fans of adventure-driven fantasy.

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THE RAVEN GOD

LEGENDS OF ORKNEY

Sam and his brave friends must rally to defend Orkney in the final installment of Adams’ (The Red Sun, 2015, etc.) YA fantasy series.

Thirteen-year-old Sam has settled into his “witch-boy” life in Orkney, still wracked with guilt that he killed his father, the powerful god Odin, while under the sway of another. When Odin’s wife, Queen Frigga, appears, she carries the message that Odin is in the dangerous underworld and that he must be found—fast. His death has torn the veil protecting Orkney, and the mischief-maker Loki is stirring up civil war in a plot to seek revenge on Odin for cursing his wife and children. But the quest will not be easy: Sam will need his imp friend, Mavery; the spunky witch, Perrin; and his friends Leo, Howie, and Keely if he’s going to accept the challenge. As Orkney prepares for an attack from Surt, lord of the fire world, Sam is given a toy ship that holds more magic than it appears; meanwhile, Keely must convince a king that his people need not go to war, while Howie finds ways to be clever as he stays behind to defend Orkney. The shape-shifting Loki impedes them at every turn, and Sam will be asked to make sacrifices, test his memory, and, above all, forgive himself (“I’m just a kid who found himself making all kinds of mistakes before he figured out who he was”). The overarching feud between Odin and Loki makes a nice framework for a novel that sprawls across multiple worlds, characters, and adventures. Witty dialogue keeps the story buoyant, and there’s also thoughtful worldbuilding, with every colorful setting making the fictional universe more fully realized. There’s also no shortage of captivating magic, from spells to powerful pendants, as well as a variety of mythical creatures. More than 20 characters appear in the first 50 pages, though, so readers should tackle the first two novels in the trilogy first—especially if they want to savor the emotionally tender ending.

A fast-paced, satisfying capper to a trilogy that’s sure to enchant fans of adventure-driven fantasy.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943006-36-6

Page Count: 344

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

BEHIND THE BLUE

A fan of magic and her reluctant companion embark on an adventure when the mysterious Blue Man charges them with a mission.

Little Katherine contemplates what exists behind the scrim of the sky, and she gets her answer after she meets a boy named Charlie, who literally runs into her upon fleeing a blue man and a talking salamander he encounters in the nearby forest. The man is non-threatening, and asks the two to help him recover some lost items, to which Katherine heartily agrees. He doesn’t provide much information, however, so once she and Charlie enter this enchanted universe, they must take it upon themselves to figure out what the Blue Man has lost and how to go about helping him find it. With the help of guides like snarky, enigmatic Gerald and good-natured Frank, the children travel through very deep puddles to different realms behind the clouds, learning about the Blue Man’s nemesis, Grey Lady, who may have snatched his magical dragon stones. Schilling’s well drawn, vibrant world elevates his story above the standard adventure quest. His lively, amusing dialogue complements a fantastical world where fish flit through the air like bees (and may accidentally transport you elsewhere), manta rays make shy cabbies, crushed flowers pop back to life and magic permeates everything. While adults will find the narrative captivating, this book is tailor-made for storytime read-alouds.

An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

Pub Date: July 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-36189-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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