Barton’s explosive middle-grade fantasy debut tells about an orphan’s quest to save her magical best friend.
This epic fantasy, the first in a planned series, opens with the young Fiona asking a magical pond called Moonshadow how she can save her imprisoned best friend, a fairy named Jaydin. The pond responds that Fiona must offer her own life for Jaydin’s: “Pay in kind or the winds will still.” Jaydin has been accused of casting a Carpacem spell upon the king’s son, rendering the young boy nearly catatonic, yet totally awake. It’s the worst spell a magic user can inflict on someone, and the king doesn’t take it lightly—he imprisons Jaydin and threatens to execute him. With time running out, Fiona travels to the castle on her trusty talking horse, Manzy, and on the way picks up three princesses: Rhiannon, the bossy oldest; Isabel, the whiny middle child; and adorable Cricket, the youngest, who has a way of growling at her enemies and finding trouble. Manzy convinces the princesses to help save Jaydin by talking to their father, the king. As the adventure progresses, the group travels through dank tunnels beneath the castle, is locked in a dungeon and escapes into dangerous woods. Fiona’s penchant for explosives and magical spells adds to the fun. Teenage readers will no doubt relate to fiery Fiona and her need to stand up for what’s right, assert her independence and be true to her friends. Barton’s prose is clear and easy to read; it paints a fantastical, well-drawn picture of her fictional world, yet offers realistic, relatable characters throughout.
Young fantasy fans will likely enjoy this richly imagined tale and will eagerly await its next installment.