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Root Bound (Emma & the Elementals #1) by Tanya Karen Gough

Root Bound by Tanya Karen GoughNote: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Root Bound is the first of a planned quartet called Emma and the Elements. This middle grade fantasy series follows Emma as she comes of age and discovers how her unique magic can restore order to the mysterious land of Under. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (Tiffany Aching Quartet)

The Wee Free Men is the first in Terry Pratchett’s young adult series following Tiffany Aching, a young witch living in the countryside of the Discworld.

Although the Tiffany Aching books have already been out for years, I’d never bothered to read them until last May, spurred mostly by boredom during a car trip. This is why I love having a Kindle–I don’t need to pop into a bookstore, shift through the stacks, pay at the register, go home, and finally begin reading. With the Kindle, I search, I sample, I purchase, and I read. Simple. I was impressed by the Kindle editions of this series–virtually error-free. I loved being able to search the books while reading the series, too, as old friends reappeared throughout the series. I’ll probably end up tracking down the hardcover editions–the one thing I do regret is not reading these when they first came out.

The Wee Free Men sets up the rest of the Tiffany Aching books. As I devoured them, it was clear that Pratchett intended for Tiffany to grow up and come to terms with her power (while facing down the forces of evil, of course). I didn’t expect to like the Nac Mac Feegle (who bungle an attempt at kidnapping a sheep and, eventually Tiffany), but they grew on me with their penchant for violence and their love of liquor. In this book, Tiffany takes on the Queen of the Fairies in order to rescue her little brother (whom she had seen as something of a nuisance).

Writing about a child prodigy can be a dangerous thing. Flavia de Luce is a good example of this. She’s interesting enough, but not at all likeable, and her preciousness drives her into the unreadable category. Like Flavia, Tiffany is a precocious child prodigy. What keeps the reader with her, however, is empathy. As the books progress and Tiffany grows up, she comes to intimately understand empathy and why it’s important in a witch: it keeps her tethered to her own sanity. She also has an unflinching sense of justice, which keeps her from becoming too irritating.

If you’re at all familiar with Pratchett, or even if you aren’t, you should definitely track this gem down: it’s funny, touching, and utterly engrossing.

 
 

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has been sitting on my bookshelf, in all its hardcover glory, since 2004, when it was first released. I bought it without having read any extracts, on the strength of its reviews alone (as well as Neil Gaiman’s flattering blurb). I did not, however, have the physical strength to hold up this 800-page doorstop long enough to read it and not concuss myself, so it’s languished and collected dust, ever since. Until, of course, I decided to download the Kindle sample and read a few lines, and was annoyed that I hadn’t gotten around to reading it sooner in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Author: Susanna Clarke, Fantasy, Literature

 

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Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

Enchanted Glass, like all of Diana Wynne Jones’ novels, concerns the collision between the ordinary and the extraordinary, life and death. In fact, the novel opens with a death—that of Jocelyn Brandon, a wizard, who leaves his home and field-of-care (set in the fictional town of Mel Tump) to his grandson, Andrew Hope. Andrew, a history professor, finds himself in the care of two tyrants—his housekeeper, Mrs. Stock, and the gardener, Mr. Stock (the two are not related). Andrew happily goes about setting up his new home, while irking his employees. He is so single-minded about his quest to write a book about history—a new view of history—that he does not attend to his property’s magical nature or the fact that someone has been leeching his magic. As Mr. and Mrs. Stock plot to force Andrew to heed his magical duty, Aidan Cain, a twelve-year-old orphan, arrives at Andrew’s doorstep on the run from mysterious (and dangerous) stalkers. Aidan’s grandmother has just died and had once instructed him to see Jocelyn should anything happen to her. With Aidan’s arrival, Andrew begins to feel stirrings in his memory of the many lessons his grandfather gave him—lessons that will prove useful in defeating the dark powers chasing Aidan and leeching off his lands. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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