DRAGON ON TRIAL

From the Menagerie series , Vol. 2

New threats to the existence of a hidden refuge for magical and mythical animals occupy a trio of young sleuths in this droll middle volume.

The tale picks up just after the opener’s cliffhanger ending (The Menagerie, 2013) and likewise ends midcourse with an ominous, sequel-keying discovery. In between Zoe, Logan and their part-merman buddy, Blue, find themselves racing to discover the truth about the apparent murder of Pelly, the thoroughly obnoxious goose whose golden eggs are nonetheless the Menagerie’s sole source of income, and to keep the entire Wyoming facility from being shut down by regulatory agents. Meanwhile the large cast of griffins, hell hounds and other creatures—many with oversized egos, bad dispositions or both—need often hazardous care and feeding: “If you look a basilisk in the eye, it kills you instantly. If you hear a basilisk hiss, it kills you instantly. If you smell a wide-awake basilisk—.” And lest the pace lag for even a moment, the authors also stage a hilarious jury screening for a dragon’s trial-by-peers, trot in a rambunctious family of unregistered shape-changers, engineer encounters between Blue and a preening classmate with a crush, and shoehorn in several other subplots, both new and ongoing. Busy, busy…but funny, funny too, not to mention positively stuffed with exotic fauna. (map) (Fantasy. 10-12)

 

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-085143-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

From the Keeper of the Lost Cities series , Vol. 1

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

DELPHINE AND THE DARK THREAD

From the Delphine series , Vol. 2

Less charming than the opener but does feature a thimbleful of moral quandary at its center.

Armed only with her magical sewing needle, foundling mouse Delphine sets out to confront the cruel rat king in this duology closer.

As vicious rat armies pillage the mouse realms in search of her and her pointy, long-hidden treasure, Delphine finds herself waging an inner war that parallels the outer one. According to dusty documents and other reputable sources, the needle’s good powers can be perverted, but she sees no other way except killing to stop evil rat King Midnight. While struggling with a grim determination to go over to the dark side that sets her at odds with her own fundamentally loving nature, Delphine threads her way along with loyal allies past various scrapes—only to come, climactically, face to face with not only her nemesis, but her own past. Moon stitches in flashbacks to fill out the details of a tragic old love triangle that reaches its fruition here and sews her tale up with a return to Château Desjardins just in time for Cinderella’s wedding and a celebratory rodentine ball in the chandelier overhead, and she leaves a fringe of epilogue hinting at further installments to come.

Less charming than the opener but does feature a thimbleful of moral quandary at its center. (secret codes) (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-04833-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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