Tag Archives: Magic

Keepers of the Lost City

Keeper Of The Lost Cities

Books 1-6 (7 is upcoming)

by Shannon Messenger

Aladdin press,

I am going to recommend this series, with a Big Caveat.  It starts out as a Middle Grade series with a female lead character and lots of magic in a story reminiscent of Harry Potter meets Percy Jackson.  It ends as more of a Teen Fiction series complete with love triangle and DRAMA. So without spoiling anything, travel with Sophie a changeling who thinks she knows about her past but in fact she is a lost child from an Elvin world where cuts are treated with potions, and the Elves are lead by a group of Councilors from the nobility, and all manner of magical creatures live in harmony with each other.

Sophie meets an intriguing cast of characters from Dax, son of a potions master. Keefe a more likable son of a Malfoy like noble. Fitz son of yet another noble and fellow Telepath. And many other characters who are fun and assist Sophie on her journey to discover the purpose of her existence.  There is pin trading, magic dodgeball, smelly foods, and troll poetry.  Mystery, secret messages, magic mirrors, and lots of hospital visits.

I really liked book one, there is nothing objectionable or too problematic for middle grade readers.  Its in the subsequent slide into love triangle and Sophie’s lack of growth into a strong capable heroine that gives me pause.  Its a fun series, but Sophie is a bit of a Mary Sue when it comes to powers (Oh no one has ever ‘insert magic ability/talent/skill’ here) but she never grows beyond the wilting, panic filled young girl we see in the first novel.

A Kingfisher fished for food…

Kingfisher By Patricia McKillip, Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Ace


I have to admit, this wasn’t my favorite book by one of my favorite authors by a long shot. More like a series of vignettes with a loose thread that is frayed and often lost in what I guess was supposed to be a grand tapestry story interweaving several main characters together.
First let me back up a moment. I detest multiple perspective stories. I like to grab onto a character and experience their journey without the hither and yon that happens when you split a book into parts to follow vastly different characters with different paths, even if they all end up at the same location. I dislike following multiple characters even more if it is a first book and the author cloaks most of the story in weird foggy descriptions and perplexing “just answer one question for me please” kind of word games. I’m also not a fan of food journeys. So why am I bothering to review this at all? Because this is a fascinating if sometimes overwhelmingly frustrating book to read.
This is set in a sometime alternate future where cars are common on the coast of a blend between England and New England, but people live in a mystical faded glory of King Arthur. Where knights still take on quests, though they are just as likely to be riding motorbikes and inside limos as horses. Where armor and silk jackets, werewolves, and foggy enchantments lay heavy. And ancient Gods and the fey still wander across the land.

We follow three, sometimes more people on a Kingfisher quest. To find a cauldron, or holy grail, or fountain of knowledge that has been lost in time and just might be found in a small coastal town filled with silences and questions. Follow a sorceress’ son, a bastard prince, a daughter of a wolf, and many others as they follow their hearts (and stomachs) on this modern retelling of King Arthur and his quest for the holy grail.

The Light Bender


Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Age Range: 9 – 12 years

Grade Level: 4 – 7

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: Dial Books (June 2, 2015)

I got to see the first few chapters in a Netgalley sneak peek and after tearing through the preview I ordered this book.  It arrived and the cover is just as fun as what is inside the book.  Peek through the cutout cover and see a world of wonder.  Our main character is Micah.  His grandfather Ephram once got an invitation to attend the Circus Mirandus for a week.  While there he witnessed magic and it transported him for a little while away from the turmoil of living during WWII.  Ephram’s favorite attraction was the Light Bender.  A man who could pull anything from your imagination and make it real, even if only for a moment.  Ephram did something then that earned him a miracle, and now it is time for him to collect that miracle.  Because Ephram is dying and he has one last wish, all he needs is the Light Bender to come and grant it.

Micah is the type of hero I love.  In a wonderful Cinderella story, if Cinderella was a Prince instead of a princess, Micah has just a few days to convince the Light Bender and the members of this magical circus to help his grandfather.  Because Grandpa Ephram only has a few days left and Micah needs that miracle to come true.  Micah will fight with his new best friend for that miracle and discover what Grandpa Ephram’s last wish is.  Because sometimes what we really want isn’t what we really need.

This is a story that takes place in a kind of any-town USA, and features a great cast of characters.  There are bad guys, good guys, magic, school, a brilliant elephant, and a wise cracking parrot.  I read this in one short sitting, and the end left me with a smile.  While there is room for a sequel, the end of the story does not leave you hanging.  If you read The Vampire’s Assistant and loved the beginning of the series but found the ending unsettling and unsatisfying, this story is for you. This is classic escapism fantasy and if your child likes that kind of story, I recommend this story for you. A great story for boys and girls, dreamers and adventurers.

The next part contains spoilers so Don’t read if you don’t want to know:

Parental Note:  For the age range, not a whole lot.  There is a death in the story and it is handled well for the target age range.  The Aunt is borderline abusive, and while her reason for being so mean is explained about two thirds of the way through, it still does not excuse her horrible behavior.

A Summertime Mystery….

So here is a book for all of my Middle Grade mystery fans who like a bit of magic in their stories.

Dissapearance of Emily H.
Dissapearance of Emily H.

The Disappearance of Emily H. Barrie Summy
May 12 2015

This is a Netgalley review, eBook free in exchange for an honest review.

So this is a book I am very conflicted about. On the one hand it is a great middle grade slice of life, girl at new school story. On the other it is a quasi fantasy where our main character has a secret power. The conflict is how she deals with her power and the mean girls in her life. Raine is our thirteen year old main character with the hopeless mother who flits from one man to another leaving Raine to pretty much raise herself. Picking up roots and moving every time the relationship falls apart. The central mystery is about a girl named Emily who went missing from the house Raine and her mother have just moved into. This is a fast paced fun read that stalls in the middle and has a few perplexing logic leaps that require a hearty dose of suspended disbelief. And that is probably my biggest problem. I don’t like bully books where the solution is more bullying. I find it highly suspicious that the solution to the missing girl is what it is. And without spoiling the story, the climatic ending was a bit of a “that’s it?”. If you have a young girl or a boy who is into mysteries with a hint of magic and a heaping helping of danger, this is a great summer read.

Parental note. There is some pretty horrific bullying by the mean girls, and the solution Raine and her friend come up with is downright illegal. It is worth having a discussion with your child since the adults are largely absent in this story. The kids in this story hid the abuse by classmates that tread the line between cruel and criminal, never telling a parent or trusted adult. Raine’ Mom is in need of serious mental health help. The bad guy is just evil. And the story can swing from sparkly light hearted, sometimes funny to soul crushing in an instant.