A COLLEGE OF MAGICKS

The first adult-oriented fantasy from the author of various juveniles (River Rats, 1992, etc.), set in an intriguing, not-so- different early 20th-century alternate world where magic works unobtrusively. Faris, the young Duchess of Galazon, is sent to Greenlaw College on the French coast by her uncle Brinker. She proves a less than brilliant student but nevertheless acquires a faithful bodyguard in Tyrian, a firm friend in Jane, and an enemy in Menary of Aravill, whose father, King Julian, claims Galazon. Also, inexplicably to Faris, the dean of the college explains that Faris is the warden of the north, one of the four magical guardians of the world, and that her particular task is to mend the magical rift that her mother mistakenly opened. Faris doubts that she has any magic—until, after Menary has trapped Tyrian and turned him into a cat, she turns him back and sets Menary's hair aflame. Later, Brinker summons Faris home; accompanied by Jane, she agrees to become ambassador to Aravill, only to discover that Brinker intends to marry her off to Julian. The malevolent Menary shows up and attempts to destroy Faris by magic, only to be dispatched into the rift; Tyrian is killed defending Faris against the king; and there's an appropriate but not altogether satisfying windup. Strikingly set, pleasingly peopled, and cleverly plotted. Stevermer has made a successful transition to adult entertainment; which, as others have discovered, is by no means as easy as it looks.

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-85689-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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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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