Book Review Club: Magical Books for Kids & Adults #reviews

For the October meeting of Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club I decided to review two juvenile books I read this summer. Both feature magic which seems appropriate for Halloween month.

Girl Who Drank the Moon cover

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill
2017 Newbery Winner
Fantasy / Fairy Tales
Audio book narrated by Christina Moore

This middle grade fantasy book reads like a fairy tale. Once a year in a land called The Protectorate, the youngest child in the village is sacrificied to an evil witch who lives in the forest. What the inhabitants don’t know is that there is no evil witch. What the Elders who rule the Protectorate don’t know is that there is a good witch named Xan who shows up every year to rescue the baby and take it to the Free Cities on the other side of the forest to be adopted by a loving family. Along the way Xan feeds the baby on starlight.

One year things don’t go as planned. Xan is so enamored of this baby that she accidentally feeds her moonlight which enmagicks her. Xan decides to keep this special child whom she names Luna. Xan is 500 years old. She lives in the middle of the forest with a tiny dragon named Fyrian and a large swamp monster who quotes poetry and is older than magic named Glerk. Xan, Glerk and Fyrian raise Luna, who is so full of magic she can’t control that Xan has to cast a spell to contain her magic.

Meanwhile, back in the Protectorate, a young man named Antain, nephew of the High Elder, watches what is going on with horror. He is present when Luna is torn from her mother’s arms. Her mother subsequently goes mad and is locked up in the tower of the Sisters of the Stars, a paramilitary order of nuns led by the evil Sister Ignatia.

When Luna draws close to her 13th birthday, at which time the spell containing her powers will be released, everything comes to a head in the forest during a volcanic eruption.

The review in the New York Times said the book “educates about oppression, blind allegiance and challenging the status quo while immersing the reader in an exhilarating story full of magical creatures and derring-do.”

The whole book is absolutely delightful, and I can see why it’s the 2017 Newbery winner. I loved the characters, esp. Fyrian, who is actually 500 years old but acts like a child. I loved the voice the narrator used for him. He’s such a cute, endearing character. Highly recommended for both children and adults.

Splendors and Glooms cover

Splendors and Glooms cover

Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Juvenile Literature

Schlitz is also a Newbery winner but not for this book. It’s a Victorian Gothic fantasy and rather dark in the later Harry Potter tradition. There are three children in the book: Clara Wintermute, the only living child of parents who lost the other four to cholera. Clara escaped because she refused to eat her watercress. The family is still mourning four years later. Clara sees Gaspare Grisini and the two children who work for him, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, do a play with marionettes in the park and loves it. She begs her father to hire Grisini to perform at her birthday party with disastrous results. The next morning Clara is missing and Lizzie Rose and Parsefall find a new marionette who looks just like her. They all end up in the Lake Country at the home of a dying witch who needs the children to release her from a curse.

I found the book very interesting and some of the characters, esp. Lizzie Rose and Clara, endearing. Parsefall, a workhouse kid, provides some comic release. Grisini is the real villain of the book, though the witch is a mixed blessing to the children. Well written and engrossing.

Click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.

Book Review Club Button

Linda

Dear FCC: I bought the Audible copy of The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and I borrowed Splendors and Glooms from the public library.

Ilona’s Wolf: Little Red Riding Hood for Adults #PNR #halloweenreads #giveaway

Note: My Rafflecopter giveaway ends October 30 at midnight. See below to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that one of my favorite childhood Halloween costumes was Witch, and the other was Little Red Riding Hood, so when I set out to write a fairy tale romance, Red was my first thought.

wolf + moon

In Ilona’s Wolf, I opened with a twist. Instead of Red, in this case Ilona, being rescued from the wolf by a woodsman, I reversed their roles. Now she’s rescued from a predatory woodsman by a werewolf knight.

Ilona's Wolf coverExcerpt:

“Yes,” she insisted. In her mind she saw the wolf racing through the forest, sensed its blood lust. She fought down the fear, knowing it weakened her. Gods, was she destined to be ravished and devoured on the same day?

Then she heard the creature approaching. It bounded out of the woods and stood, snarling, lifted its head and let out a blood-curdling howl. The woodsman took one look at the fierce creature and ran off down the path. The wolf chased after him, then wheeled and trotted back toward her.

She sat frozen, her back to the tree. Oh, gods, don’t let it see me. She tried to cast an invisibility spell, but to no avail. The wolf looked at her, golden eyes gleaming, mouth open, showing off large, sharp teeth. She closed her eyes and gripped her throat with both hands. Quaking with terror, she listened as the animal padded toward her. She felt its hot breath on her cheek.

Opening her eyes a slit, she stared into the face of the wolf. Sad eyes stared at her, and her fears receded. Perhaps he’d been tamed. She reached out with what was left of her powers, but sensed no immediate danger. “Good wolf,” she stammered.

She held out one shaking fist, and the wolf sniffed it before licking her knuckles. It moved closer, sniffing her clothing. To her surprise, the animal hunkered down beside her and laid its head on her leg. Carefully, she touched it, stroking the soft fur.

Relief flooded through her. Saved by a wolf, of all creatures. “Thank the gods you showed up when you did. I’d no wish to be ravished by the likes of him.”

The wolf lifted its head and seemed to smile up at her, mouth open, tongue lolling.

She smiled at the canine as she continued to pet it. “Grateful I am for you rescuing me, but ’tis not exactly what a girl dreams of. Where’s my knight on a white steed? ’Tis he who is supposed to do the rescuing.”

When the wolf lowered his head, sniffing between her legs, she laughed and pushed it away. “Rude creature.”

The animal responded by sitting up and resting its head on her breast. She put both arms around it and hugged it close, dropping a kiss on its head. “Do not misunderstand, Sir Wolf, but I still wish you were a knight. A strong, handsome knight like my Werner.”

The familiar sadness filled her at the memory of her husband. “I miss him so much, you know. Dagmar says another knight will come for me, a handsome knight to protect us and make sweet, passionate love to me.”

The wolf whined and raised his head to lick her cheek. Laughing, she tried to push him away, but he licked her full on the mouth. She closed her eyes, stunned when her powers came rushing back, like a flood of magic coursing around her.

Turning aside, she summoned her basket to her side. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the wolf jump up, staring at the basket. Her vision seemed to blur as the wolf’s face slowly became humanlike, then shifted back. She must have hit her head harder than she’d thought if she was seeing things. She closed her eyes and shook her head, but the aching had receded.

When she peeked again, the wolf was gone, and a naked man crouched in front of her. A handsome, well-built man with shaggy brown hair and golden brown eyes.

“Who are you?” she gasped.

Buy (or borrow on Kindle Unlimited) at: Amazon US, Amazon AU, Amazon Canada, and Amazon UK.

Follow the instructions below to enter my Rafflecopter giveaway, ending at midnight October 30. There are three ways to enter:

1. Like my Lyndi Lamont Facebook page
2. Subscribe to my mailing list and upcoming newsletter
3. Subscribe to my blog (on right sidebar or scroll to bottom of the page)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lyndi Lamont