A witty and enthusiastic tale about a powerful tween; a veritable delight.

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AURELLA THE WITCH

From the Aurella the Witch series , Vol. 1

In this debut YA fantasy, a girl inadvertently reveals her magic ability, precipitating a witch hunt in a kingdom that hates and fears her kind.

Twelve-year-old Aurella is a witch, at least according to the school bullies who relentlessly taunt her. They tend to leave her alone if she’s with her teen guy pal, Mavic, who lives and works at the orphanage in the Dovice kingdom. But when Mavic spots Aurella in disguise (a spell she unknowingly casts), he drops a doozy: she really is a witch. She was adopted as an infant, but she’s surprised that Mavic seems to know about her birthparents. He further relays Dovice’s history: humans once lived in peace with warlocks and witches, but a warlock-sparked war led to a split country (the Dovice and Rashtica kingdoms) and a subsequent witch hunt. Aurella secretly practices her spells, chiefly manipulating others into seeing or hearing things. One day, however, trying to aid Mavic in an unfair fight, Aurella uses her powers in full view of villagers. Certain that people will respond with another witch hunt, Mavic suggests Aurella head for possible refuge in Rashtica. He joins her, with the two soon encountering allies and adversaries, while Aurella learns more about her past—and a few new spells. Sezate’s appealing tale retains a brisk pace (primarily Aurella and Mavic fleeing through a forest) and winsome characters. Aurella, for one, is a believable tween but with a welcome maturity, often calm in confrontations. Her relationship with Mavic is akin to siblings, and their banter never wears thin, complete with teasing and endearing insults. There are several solid plot turns, including the appearance of others capable of magic and tension riled up by deterrents: excessive spells ignite a blinding headache for Aurella. No timeline specification allows for a hefty batch of modern vernacular, though it’s occasionally repetitive, particularly utterances of “crap.” Sezate thoroughly wraps up Book 1 but ends on a cliffhanger, surely leaving readers on the hunt for a sequel.

A witty and enthusiastic tale about a powerful tween; a veritable delight.

Pub Date: May 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5455-9611-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2017

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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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AFTER HAMELIN

An expansion of the classic story of the pied piper, this tells of young Penelope, left behind when the piper returns for the children of Hamelin after saving the town from rats. On her 11th birthday, she must enter the world of dreams, accompanied by an eclectic assortment of companions—a talking cat, a jump-roping dragon, a blind harpist—and eventually face the piper himself in a battle of power, greed, and music. Narrated by a 101-year-old Penelope, the story bounces between recollections of the adventure, ruminations on her life, and meeting another Penelope, who is approaching her 11th birthday. By trying to incorporate too many subplots, Richardson fails to explain some of the more central points of the main story. He also introduces and dismisses concepts and props with no consistency. Penelope brings a jump rope with her, but it is rarely mentioned until she has use for it. The only way for Penelope to resist the piper’s enchanted music is to not hear it; she suddenly becomes deaf on her 11th birthday, an occurrence left unexplained. Nor does the reader ever find out why she conveniently regains her hearing upon entering the dreamland. Contrived and disjointed, this is an original interpretation that lacks development. Likely to attract lovers of fairy-tales, but it will disappoint. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55037-629-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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