An enchanting magical sequel that will satisfy fans of the series.


From the Witches of Orkney series , Vol. 2

In the second installment of this middle-grade fantasy series, a young orphan witch may be powerful enough to break a longtime curse.

Abigail’s second year at Tarkana Witch Academy promises to be as strenuous as her first. Fellow student Endera continues to torment her, and Endera’s equally hateful High Witch mother, Melistra, is teaching one of Abigail’s courses. Their animosity stems from an allegation that Abigail’s late mother Lissandra, whom Abigail never knew, was a traitor to their coven. Meanwhile, Abigail’s friend Hugo, who attends the science-based Balfin School for Boys, has heard vague rumors of an impending war. This seems to be connected to recent signs of a prophecy, which says a chosen one will break a curse placed on witches by the god Odin. The Tarkana witches could then take the powerful Odin’s Stone away from the Orkadians, the apparent rulers of the Orkney realm in which they all live—and then declare war on them. According to the prophecy, the Curse Breaker’s magic is “different from any other’s”—much like Abigail’s uniquely blue witchfire. This could mean that Abigail has immensely powerful abilities, which other witches, such as Melistra, desperately crave. Meanwhile, Abigail is fighting to resist a strange, persistent voice that’s trying to draw her toward dark magic. Adams’ (The Blue Witch, 2018, etc.) concise prose delivers a quick read that’s packed with colorful characters and subplots. She skillfully weaves together the stories of new and returning characters, but although the plot is easy to follow, new readers would find it helpful to read the opening installment. The characters have engaging relationships (Abigail acts as an older sister to another witch, Safina) and memorable fantastic elements, as in a dreamlike sequence in which Abigail may be using magic subconsciously. There are some amusing moments, as well, including alliterative course titles, such as Horrible Hexes and Positively Potent Potions. The final act ramps up the tension, and the ending will make readers yearn for a follow-up. Returning illustrator Stroh’s bold black-and-white artwork, as in the previous book, perfectly captures the author’s stunningly detailed world.

An enchanting magical sequel that will satisfy fans of the series.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943006-98-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

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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.


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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