The combination of adventure, appealing characters, and high stakes should satisfy middle-grade fantasy fans.

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SECRETS OF VALHALLA

Two unlikely preteens battle the gods of Norse mythology to save their world from Ragnarok—chaos and destruction.

Strange things are happening in Crowmarsh, England, and Buzz Buzzard has lots to contend with: his botanist mother in missing in the Amazon cloud forest; his famous mythology-professor father is as remote as ever; he’s bullied by his sister’s boyfriend; and it is Friday the 13th, a date he dreads. Buzz meets Mary, a visiting American girl who can see ghosts and read people’s fears. In the Tangley Woods they discover the missing local meteorologist, only to find that she has become a host for the goddess Sunna, one of the day guardians. Loki has escaped his bonds and captured Sunna, causing Sunday to cease to exist and throwing the world into a repeating Saturday time loop. Loki wants the Runes of Valhalla, held by the day guardians. In order to find the runes first, Buzz and Mary travel, with the help of a huge magic tree, to the cloud realm, to Atlantis, and to the underworld, battling magic and danger. Although the action proceeds at breakneck speed, character development does not suffer; both Mary and Buzz are appealing. Some knowledge of Norse mythology will help readers unravel the multiple gods and complicated plot, but it’s not critical.

The combination of adventure, appealing characters, and high stakes should satisfy middle-grade fantasy fans. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-201009-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning.

ARU SHAH AND THE TREE OF WISHES

From the Pandava Quintet series , Vol. 3

In the third instalment of the Pandava Quartet, 14-year-old Arundhati “Aru” Shah and her companions need to defeat their archnemesis (and Aru’s father), the Sleeper, and prevent the impending war between the devas and asuras.

The novel opens with Aru and her friends on a mission to rescue two people from the Sleeper’s soldiers. The two people are 10-year-old identical twins and Pandavas Nikita and Sheela, trapped atop a Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta. This mission is of utmost importance because Sheela is a clairvoyant with an important prophecy, which speaks of the rise of the Sleeper and an untrue Pandava sister—and which the Sleeper must not hear at any cost. Despite their best efforts, however, one of the Sleeper’s soldiers overhears the prophecy, and Aru, Mini, Brynne, and Adin—accompanied by Rudy, a serpent prince—set off to find the missing Kalpavriksha, a wish-granting tree, so that they might wish upon it to set things right. Much like its predecessors, this fast-moving adventure draws on Hindu cosmology and South Asian pop-culture references to create an enchanting but believable magical Otherworld, where gods, demigods, demons, and talking animals abound. Chokshi’s novel is pitch perfect: The plot is action-packed, the dialogue witty, and the characters (almost all of whom are either Indian or part-Indian) are compelling, diverse, and complex.

Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-01385-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

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