Kirkus Reviews QR Code


The Secret Country

by Jane Johnson & illustrated by Adam Stower

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: May 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-4169-0712-2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A talking cat pitches young Ben Arnold into the role of semi-reluctant Hero, as a scheme to drain Eidolon, the Hidden Land, of magic by importing its creatures to this plane puts him up against his cruel uncle and a powerful, dog-headed sorcerer. As a major Tolkien expert and the author of previous fantasies under several pseudonyms, Johnson brings unusual credentials to this series opener. However, aside from a few clever allusions (Ben lives in a house called “Grey Havens” on Underhill Road), she runs a familiar cast of snarky talking animals, clear-cut villains, bumbling goblins and oblivious humans through a routine set of chases, escapes and revelations that ends in a temporary draw. As it turns out, Ben’s desperately ill mother is the Elven queen of Eidolon, and (naturally) a prophecy hints that he and his two sisters will save the day. Stay tuned. (Fantasy. 10-13)