The unusual blend of magical medieval mystery and disaster lite offers an effervescent but not explosive read.

STOLEN MAGIC

Elodie takes the stage again as a mansioner (actor) and assistant detective when a mystery interrupts her homeward journey and imperils her friends in this sequel to A Tale of Two Castles (2011).

Having survived seasickness, robbery, unemployment and accusations of assassination in her first five weeks away from home, Elodie leaves the big city of Two Castles with the gentle, shape-shifting ogre known as Count Jonty Um and the erudite but illiterate dragon Masteress Meenore, intending to reassure her parents of her safety and good fortune. When a snowstorm strands the trio at the mountain hall of Oase, they discover that the Replica that keeps the island together and the volcanoes dormant is gone, and Zertrum will soon explode. Elodie dives into detective work, eager to save the island and prove her powers to Meenore, but the other guests are hostile, the host, High Brunka Marya, is an irritatingly enigmatic magical creature, and her human “bees” are less dronelike than their title of servitude suggests. The narrative shifts among Elodie, Jonty Um and Meenore are distracting, dilute an already thin plot, and in Meenore’s case, run counter to previously established characterization. Despite the meager mystery, Levine still offers a detailed magical world, high-stakes action, and arch observations of family tensions and racial divides.

The unusual blend of magical medieval mystery and disaster lite offers an effervescent but not explosive read. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-170637-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of...

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998) brings back the doughty young wizard-in-training to face suspicious adults, hostile classmates, fretful ghosts, rambunctious spells, giant spiders, and even an avatar of Lord Voldemort, the evil sorcerer who killed his parents, while saving the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from a deadly, mysterious menace.

Ignoring a most peculiar warning, Harry kicks off his second year at Hogwarts after a dreadful summer with his hateful guardians, the Dursleys, and is instantly cast into a whirlwind of magical pranks and misadventures, culminating in a visit to the hidden cavern where his friend Ron's little sister Ginny lies, barely alive, in a trap set by his worst enemy. Surrounded by a grand mix of wise and inept faculty, sneering or loyal peers—plus an array of supernatural creatures including Nearly Headless Nick and a huge, serpentine basilisk—Harry steadily rises to every challenge, and though he plays but one match of the gloriously chaotic field game Quidditch, he does get in plenty of magic and a bit of swordplay on his way to becoming a hero again.

Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of broad boarding school farce and high fantasy. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 2, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-06486-4

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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