A sparkling middle-grade fantasy opens a trilogy.
Rye O’Chanter is a somewhat clumsy 11-year-old who enjoys hijinks with best friends Quinn and Folly on the roofs and lanes of Village Drowning, a dark, medieval-feeling town. It’s run by a nasty, self-absorbed earl and surrounded by bogs that have spawned a legend of Bog Noblins—vile beasts who eat unwary villagers and adorn themselves with necklaces made out of said villagers’ feet. Many years earlier, a secret society of protectors named Luck Uglies had fought and vanquished the Bog Noblins, and now, neither monsters nor secret society members exist. Or do they? When a real, not-just-legend, Bog Noblin shows up and begins to terrorize Village Drowning, old fears as well as old secrets are resurrected. Debut author Durham spins a tale of intrigue and adventure peopled with characters so individually full of both goodness and flaws that readers will immediately relate. It is this nuance of character that raises the narrative above the trope of a good-vs.-evil storyline and into richer, more layered territory. Durham combines intelligent writing that does not talk down to the intended audience with an innocent charm—a concoction that is sure to captivate readers and make them thankful that this is Book 1 of a trilogy.
Layers, nuance, wit and a thumping good story make this a must-read. (Fantasy. 9-13)