A fairy tale for discerning adults who appreciate solid story structure, compelling human characters and inventive fantasy.

THE HOUSE OF YEEL

A fantasy tale from McCloskey that fleshes out the archetypal hero’s journey with interplanetary travel, fearsome nemeses and one delightfully logical wizard.

The Crescent Knight nears the completion of his quest to the storied Far Coast. However, no sooner does he look upon the floating, magnificent House of Yeel than a winged, cat-bodied, snake-tongued beast viciously bats him off his precipice. Jymoor, a scout, tries next. Where many travelers have failed, she successfully enters the otherworldly house in the sky to request Yeel’s help for her people—and she offers herself as a sacrifice if necessary. A jabbering, self-described alchemist, Yeel only agrees to help Jymoor’s war-torn nation of Riken when he learns that enemy forces are burning their libraries. Unbeknownst to his houseguest, Yeel is a tentacled alien who wears the disguise of an elderly sorcerer. Early in the journey to Riken, Yeel neutralizes the curious keeper of harapins—one harapin besieged the Crescent Knight and many have long enforced Yeel’s home-imprisonment. When Yeel raids the keeper’s abode for artifacts, he discovers the Crescent Knight, who’s been a slave to the keeper for years. After slaying a supernatural serpent and thereby freeing its victims—ages-old Riken citizens who had turned to stone—Yeel defends himself from the Crescent Knight, who actually approached the Far Coast with a goal, not of supplication, but murder. When Yeel gives Jymoor slumber-replacement pills, she is able to tirelessly realm-hop and quickly refine her battle skills. These traits add interest for the reader. The entire party reaches Riken without a single lapse into the tedium of the cookie-cutter quests of fantasy. Having arrived, Jymoor introduces Yeel to the skeptical King Aruscetar and helps Yeel convince the king that an interrealm alliance is expedient to Riken’s freedom. Again calling on the structural and stylistic creativity that kept the arduous road trip to Riken engaging, McCloskey invigorates the closing three-pronged battle sequence with elements of intrigue, humor and surprise.

A fairy tale for discerning adults who appreciate solid story structure, compelling human characters and inventive fantasy.

Pub Date: April 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475064025

Page Count: 262

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2012

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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