Aaaaand we're back. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a Festive Epiphany to you all.
Here I am at public library, blogging on my new laptop like a grown-up. And because I have no children with me, I have to be upstairs in the Grown Up Section, where I have no business being. I don't read these books, watch these movies, or listen to this music, as my current playlist includes Wee Sing Fun and Folk and Farmer Boy the audiobook. But I can pose as an ah-dult for this 45 minutes while Edmund is with the tutor.
It seems like the last several books I've read are all about wizards.
The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney is an example of a very well-written book that is not suitable for children, and probably not adults either. Delaney writes super scary tales of Thomas, the seventh son of a seventh son, who is apprenticed to the County's spook. The spook's job is to keep the County free of witches, boggarts, and ghosts. The current spook, Mr. Gregory, has a soft spot and would rather imprison Mother Malkin, a witch, than destroy her. When Thomas inadvertently frees her, the real terrors begin.
Mother Malkin is a "blood witch," and when a village child goes missing, Thomas can guess what was in the meat pies he fed the witch as a favor to a mysterious girl in the woods. Huge doses of horror abound in this book, witches eating infants, the dead possessing the living, summoning spirits by stealing their bones, studies of exorcisms and more. I found it hard to put down and hard to sleep afterwards. Also of concern is the mocking way in which Mr. Gregory refers to priests, even his own brother, and he also admits to having been a priest at one time.
Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling (creator of Bob the Builder) started out with so much promise! A new realm of fantasy, where all nobility are therianthopes, or shape-shifters. The current king is a were-lion, his predecessor, a werewolf. There are were-bears, were-foxes, were-boars, were-stags, nasty, nasty were-rats, and even a pirate were-shark.
Young farm boy, Drew, has no idea that he is the one true heir to the throne, and the world's last werewolf. One night, his father and brother are away and a terrible, vicious beast mauls and kills his mother. Upon returning home to the carnage, his father believes him to be the killer. So he flees an begins a fantastic adventure to discover his identity, and re-claim the throne.
My big problem with the novel is with Drew's friend, Hector. Hector, a were-boar, was trained in the healing arts by Lord Vankaskan, an evil were-rat. Unfortunately, Hector also picked up some of the dark arts too, including reviving corpses to communicate with them, and summoning the dead for conversations. These actions are forbidden, but once started, Hector cannot seem to stop. Halfway through the second book, Rage of Lions, it appears that everyone including Drew is opposed to Hector's actions, but now he is constantly plagued by undead spirits. Too creepy and occult-like for moi.
Janitors by Tyler Whitesides was a breath of fresh air after the above two. Written for a younger, elementary school crowd, Janitors is about Spencer and the mysterious creatures he sees all over the school after washing his face with the vial of pink soap he found in the boys' bathroom. Turns out there is an evil organization out to destroy the world by undermining elementary school education. The magical creatures cause forgetfulness, confusion, daydreaming, and sleepiness. Only the secret society of Janitors know what's at stake and how save the school. Creative and witty, if yucky/crude at times, Janitors will find lots of popularity with the 12 and under set.
Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull is a decent read. Jason is whisked away from modern America, studying for an anatomy test, practicing baseball, and the like to a completely new world, Lyrian. Very Narnia-esque. And like the Chronic-what-cles, this world is in the grasp of an evil, yep, you guessed it, wizard. But Jason is not alone, another "Beyonder" appeared at the same time he did, Rachel, a smart, Hermione-like, homeschooler.
Since they have no way of returning home, they decide to go on a quest for the six syllables of the Word that can destroy Maldor, the big, bad emperor.
My only prob with this book is that Jason likes to whine about his parents back home, how they won't know how to take care of his dog, how they can't trust him to study for the test and practice at the batting cages, so he just blew them off and went to the cages anyway. He's very jealous of the only child, Rachel, whose parents travel around the world with her to educate her, because they are independently wealthy or I missed what their jobs are. He is also jealous of his older sibs. The ten year gap between them means he feels he missed out. There are no pictures in his baby book.
So, maybe I'm a little sensitive to that kind of thinking, seeing as how J-Babe is 8 years younger than Edmund, and I have not gotten around to her baby book yet.
Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold by M. L. Forman is the tale of how fifteen year old Alex gets whisked away to another world (heard this one already?) where he is recruited to go on a adventure with some men, some dwarves, and an elf to kill a dragon and claim the hoard. Interesting twist, huh? It's a fun version of Hobbit-lite. Oh, and btw, Alex is predicted to be a dun.dun.dun.dunnnn... Wizard.
And now for something completely different, Cinda Williams Chima's The Warrior Heir is about young Jack, who does NOT get transported to another world. Rather, one day he stops taking his meds, and discovers that he has super-human abilities. One discovery leads to another, and soon he finds that he has been surrounded and protected by (here it comes) wizards, enchanters, soothsayers and the like his whole life.
There is a long and complicated back story and I'm way past my 45 minutes, now blogging while throwing mozzarella sticks at the three youngest, no dinner in sight. If you were going to read any of the above, or try to make your child do so, Lucy, Susan and I, all agree that this is the one to read. It's part one of a trilogy.
Trilogies are my favorite. Gives you more than one story, but not too much more. The end is in sight. I always get a feeling of dread when I see a book is called "Book 1" as though the author and publishers have no idea where this is going to go, like Nancy Drew and her one trillion episodes or the far too many Series of Unfortunate Events, or 39 is too many Clues. There are exceptions, like the Potter series, Narnia, Little House, but you have to be really brilliant to pull that off. Even Tolkien stopped at three. Or four. Depending on how you look at it. I must stop. The end. Until next time. Done.