ON THE EDGE OF THE DARK SEA OF DARKNESS

THE WINGFEATHER SAGA, BOOK 1

In the goofy fantasy land of Skree, where “totato” gardens are infested with “thwaps” and the town fool dances in circles with socks on his hands, three children find themselves embroiled in the fight against evil. Janner loves younger brother Tink and sister Leeli, but he wishes it wasn’t always his job to protect them. Still, in a world run by the stinky, lizard-like Fangs of Dang, Janner can’t be too careful. The ruler of the Fangs, wicked Gnag the Nameless, wants nothing more than the mythical Jewels of Anniera—and the local Fangs think Janner’s family is hiding them. Over the course of a few too many nick-of-time rescues, the children learn their predictable great secret. Janner’s loving family injects the fantasy tropes with heartfelt sincerity, which lies incongruously among the gags, silly names and fake footnotes. But all the right quest elements are here, and with a bit more balance (less forced clownishness, a more natural flow of narrative tension), the sequel could be a book well worth the wait. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4000-7384-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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Richly textured, but the link between Eve’s 24-7 sex appeal and the larger message of peaceful coexistence is tenuous,...

BETWEEN TWO DESERTS

This evocative plea for the power of love in the heart of Middle East turmoil, the story of a young American woman of singular charm, shifts uneasily between tragedy and fantasy. As the Intifada rages, Eve Cavell enters Jerusalem, City of Light and Stone, accompanied by the ghost of her grandfather, who died starting the trip she has finished, and moves into the Muslim Quarter. Her raven hair and sensuous form are a siren call to men young and old, Palestinian and Israeli. While dashing Salim, apolitical scion of an old and once-proud Jerusalem family, shares her bed, watching them through the curtains from the street below is Mozes, ex-Hungarian partisan whose one novel, A Time For War, has been a bestseller in Israel for 40 years. Old and alone, he sees in Eve his Muse, who will help him to repudiate his former clamor for war and introduce a new message of love and understanding. Salim has to flee Jerusalem ahead of the jihad’s disapproval of his form of collaboration, but Eve works her brand of magic on a street preacher, a father and son—the former temporarily leaving his wife for her, the latter trying to save her from Israeli intelligence—and ultimately on Mozes’s son, who comes from Hungary to bury his father, killed at a bus stop by a knife-wielding fanatic.

Richly textured, but the link between Eve’s 24-7 sex appeal and the larger message of peaceful coexistence is tenuous, making her more cipher than symbol.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2002

ISBN: 1-931561-13-3

Page Count: 155

Publisher: MacAdam/Cage

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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A remarkable first effort, recommended without reservation.

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No Safe Haven

It’s tempting to class this historical novel about the Battle of Gettysburg as YA fiction because its heroine is 15, but, with all due respect to that genre, it’s much, much more.

Debut novelist Moody found an account written by Matilda “Tillie” Pierce—a teenager who lived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when the famous Civil War battle changed the good citizens’ lives forever—and ran with it. In this novel, Tillie comes from a good, God-fearing, staunchly abolitionist family, and she, her parents, her sister, Maggie, and a butcher’s apprentice named Sam live together; her two brothers, James and William, have gone off to war. First ragtag Confederates, bent on terror and pillage, come to town; then the Union cavalry rides to the rescue, followed by the infantry, who are met by a full complement of Confederates. Then comes the full panoply of the three awful days of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), the bloodiest clash of the war. When Gettysburg first seems threatened, Tillie goes with a neighbor and her daughters to Jacob Weikert’s farm outside town, which is thought to be safer. But then Yankees commandeer the place, turning it into a field hospital. Here Tillie distinguishes herself, as she’s pressed into service as a nurse, even assisting with amputations. However, Weikert’s farm has been effectively destroyed by Union soldiers, and he doesn’t take it kindly. There’s as much turmoil within Tillie as without; specifically, she wonders how the God she’s been taught to worship could allow this carnage. Moody knows the value of detail and pacing and knows how to set a scene and build drama, as when Weikert is challenged to give up a pump handle that he hid out of spite or when his daughter returns home to find her furniture out in the street as part of a barricade. Details such as military maneuvers, weapons, and medical treatments appear to be historically accurate, as do the language, attitudes, and mores of townspeople in 19th-century America. Although this novel will appeal to adults as well, it’s sure to grab teenagers’ imaginations and teach them not just facts, but greater truths.

A remarkable first effort, recommended without reservation.

Pub Date: Feb. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5146-4367-9

Page Count: 360

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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