Up for magic and evil and humor? You might like these stories.

            Life is full of inexplicable occurrences, scary-but-intriguing events, and seemingly magical moments. So this week’s blog includes books that incorporate at least one of these traits. Too frequently, I’ve had psychic experiences where I seem to know what’s going to happen before it does. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for each instance, but maybe it’s more fun to buy into the theory of psychic powers. I hope you enjoy the reviews and, as always, I’d love the read your comments.


            But, on another note, we still seem to be having racially-motivated violence in this country and we are coming up on another anniversary of the murder of four young girls in Sunday School. Please reread my interview of Carole Boston Weatherford and her description of her book about the day those girls died.


            The first book today is a wonderful take on good and evil, with plenty of intrigue thrown in.



Kate Cann

      Rayne has been caught up in the evil power of Morton’s Keep since she came to work at the tea shop two and half months ago. She had left home to get away from family drama and fell into much more evil drama. When the story opens she thinks the evil has been contained and that she’s safe, with even a new boyfriend in the making. The boyfriend part has its ups and downs, but the evil part just keeps getting bigger. Plus many of the townspeople think Rayne has special powers to save the town from the evil. Morton’s Keep is an ancient manor house originally owned by man who could conjure of nasty spirits and other terrifying entities and his true believers have tried to restore his evil through themselves. The Watchers work to protect the Keep and town from such evil by lighting bonfires at the points surrounding the area which would depict a six-sided star. Rayne’s new boyfriend is a watcher and fire dancer, which makes her wonder whether he really is interested in her or is just using her special powers. The Keep’s present owner hires a new, female, manager, who convinces him to embrace the building’s storied dark mysteries. He is smitten by her as things turn darker and scarier. Soon Rayne realizes she’s the key to saving everyone and uses her powers to find the missing link which will let the Watchers capture the evil presence for good. Other than feeling the story took place 14th Century England, when people didn’t have cell phones, and is a sequel to an earlier book, the book is enjoyable. I never did figure out how old Rayne is, since sometimes she seems like a teenager, but people give her alcoholic beverages to drink on several occasions.

BIBLIO: 2009, Point/Scholastic, Inc., Ages 14 +, $16.99

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-545-26388-7



            The second book is not only a fantasy, there’s a mystery involved.


Departure Time

Truus Matti

Translated by Nancy Forest-Flier

      An eleven year old girl seeks shelter in an old, run-down hotel run by a fox—who is also the chef—and a rat—who is also the handyman. The rat is immediately angry with the girl, who can’t remember her name or where she’s from and can’t understand why the rat is so abrupt with her. That’s the first thread of the story; the other is of another eleven year old whose father died in an accident which he wouldn’t have had if he’d been home for her birthday. The two stories slowly begin to intertwine, until the reader realizes the part with the talking animals is a story written by the father. Another girl is hiding in the hotel and playing the piano. She is the orphaned girl, I think. I liked this book and think older teens would find it intriguing, but I can’t fathom any eleven year old I know understanding it. It’s one of the books I’d like to read in the original Dutch, if only I knew the language. The writing is stellar and the story compelling.

BIBLIO: 2010, (orig. 2009,) Namelos/Lemniscaat, Ages 14 +, $18.95

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-1-60898-087-1


            Up for a not so wonderful fairy godparent? You’ll most decidedly get a kick out of this one.


Extraordinary: The True Story of My Fairy Godparent, Who Almost Killed Me, and Certainly Never Made Me a Princess

Adam Selzer

      Turns out it’s not cool to have a book written about you, if the author makes people believe things that didn’t happen. Instead of turning her into a princess, Jennifer Van Den Berg’s fairy godparent—a disheveled, grumpy elf named Gregory Grue—grants her wishes, but they come with a price or she’ll die. Along the journey, Jennifer learns there are other ways to control one’s anger than smashing dollar-store ceramic figurines. Her favorite guy friend suddenly reappears in her suburb of Des Moines, but is being chased by his parents who want him to become a vampire like them. So she has to save him. Her fairy godmofo, Gregory, is a mess and tangles Jennifer’s life webs into ever more intricate knots. All kinds of supernatural creatures surface in the story; the school counselor is a vampire. Scenes from the fictitious book of her life preface each chapter of the book Jennifer is writing. This is an amusing book, lightheartedly written to prove life is indeed no fairy tale.

BIBLIO: 2011, Delacorte/Random House Children’s Books/Random House, Inc., Ages 14 to 18, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-385-73649-7

ISBN: 978-0-385-90612-8

ISBN: 978-0-375-98358-0


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