Losure has chosen a popular topic—witches—for her first work of fiction.
Nettle and Bracken, two young witches, are the main characters. The apparently orphaned cousins discover the human world when a magical disaster rends the veil that protects their valley. Tricked into searching for a solution (and a treasured magical artifact) by a renegade member of their coven, the two discover more than they bargained for on their journey. A friendly farmer and an oddly engaging talking raccoon offer assistance and some humor, while a pair of slightly befuddled elderly ladies winds up playing an unexpectedly bittersweet role in the adventure. Overall, however, the human characters, like the girls’ fellow witches, are sketchily drawn and fail to generate much interest. The format also poses some challenges, as fantasy fans have come to expect a bit more action and drama than they’ll find in the straightforward storyline, while chapter-book readers could feel overwhelmed by the relatively lengthy text, lack of illustration and sophisticated vocabulary. The somewhat open-ended conclusion could likewise cause confusion or frustration.
Ultimately less than the sum of its parts, this earnest effort may disappoint rather than enchant. (Fantasy. 8-10)