A gentle, colorful magical adventure, with enough creepiness and kindness to sustain a series.

THE LOST SECRET OF THE GREEN MAN

THE CRYSTAL KEEPER CHRONICLES, BOOK 2

Social studies and algebra are plenty challenging for 11-year-old Wanda, but battling a dark sorcerer–no, not her history teacher–really tests a girl’s mettle.

Other than being a budding Crystal Keeper and caretaker of the fairy world, Wanda is your standard-issue middle-schooler, spunky and timorous. Despite her neophyte status, she has been tasked with thwarting the return of Balkazaar, an evil sorcerer. But she won’t have to go it alone. A goodly cast, their characters lightly but clearly etched by Turner, help Wanda in her otherworldly progress–a unicorn, a leprechaun, a couple cat sorcerers and, of course, Brownies and Pillywiggins. The author keeps the story humming as it moves from Wanda’s discovery that new friend Eddie is also a keeper, to her passage through the fairy world, to her engagement with Balkazaar. However, the author smartly pauses long enough at certain junctures–the sudden, strange death of bees and the legend of the Green Man–to provoke readers into deeper thinking. She also inserts old chestnuts into the story with such ease that they feel fresh and may even be absorbed as life lessons–sometimes wisdom is knowing when to ask for help, how to explore one’s limits and facing fear by taking it one step at a time. It’s also worthwhile to gnaw on some plot points. “Many true things have been lost into the myths,” says one of Wanda’s guides about the Green Man. “He has become hidden because the world has lost its respect for him.” Elsewhere, the concept of time raises some confusion–“The World of Fairy has no time,” the book declares before recounting the unicorn’s efforts to fold back time and get Wanda home before her mother finds her missing–but not enough to stop readers in their tracks.

A gentle, colorful magical adventure, with enough creepiness and kindness to sustain a series.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4269-2157-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC

From the Shades of Magic series , Vol. 1

A fast-paced fantasy adventure that takes readers into a series of interconnected worlds ruled by magic—or the lack of it.

Long ago, the doors between worlds were open, and anyone with magic could travel from one to the next. Now the doors are closed, and only a chosen few have the power to travel between Grey London, a world without magic, Red London, a world suffused with it, and White London, a world where magic is scarce, coveted and jealously guarded. As for Black London, the city consumed, no one would be so foolish as to risk a trip—not even Kell. Officially, he’s a royal messenger, carrying letters among the rulers of the three Londons. Unofficially, he’s a smuggler who collects artifacts from other worlds. It’s that habit that leads him to accept a dangerous relic, something that shouldn’t exist. And it’s when a wanted Grey London thief named Lila steals the artifact that the real trouble starts—for both of them. Schwab (Vicious, 2013, etc.) creates a memorable world—actually, three memorable worlds—and even more memorable characters. Lila in particular is a winningly unconventional heroine who, as she declares, would “rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” The brisk plot makes this a page-turner that confronts darkness but is never overwhelmed by it.

Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7645-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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