The Book of Story Beginnings, by Kristin Kladstrup

I picked this book up on a whim because I liked the cover, side effects title, and plot synopsis. Yes, oddly enough, judging a book by its cover is what gets the book off the shelf and into my collection. I read it in two sittings, and it was enjoyable.

The Book of Story Beginnings 360-ish pages long, but it’s clearly meant for children, as opposed to a YA audience. While we know ‘children’ (I’m thinking 8-14) will read books of this length, it’s still packaged a little bit to look like it’s intended for a YA audience. It isn’t, really. The main character is 12, and her foil is 14. There’s actually very little coming-of-age stuff for the main character (her name is Lucy) – it’s mostly an adventure and a little bit coming-to-terms with her family. Continue reading The Book of Story Beginnings, by Kristin Kladstrup

The Dark Lord of Derkholm, by Diana Wynne Jones

You know, more about I love Diana Wynne Jones and have for many years. Every few weeks I go on a rant about how she’s 14 million times better an author than J. K. Rowling, neurologist and The Dark Lord of Derkholm is now one of my examples why.

Ben (my boyfriend; also my web guru) had been trying to get me to read this book for months, saying he thought it was clearly her best work. When a really nice hardbound copy showed up at Half-Price Books, he bought it, and I finally read it. It was worth every single page. From one of the most innovative and NON-info-dumpy opening scenes to the amazing characters to the wonderful non-humans and amazing ideas . . . Well, in short, Diana Wynne Jones wrote The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and she follows her own advice. Continue reading The Dark Lord of Derkholm, by Diana Wynne Jones

Obernewtyn and The Farseekers, by Isobelle Carmody

A few months ago, sale I read Obernewtyn and The Farseekers by Isobelle Carmody. When they were first published in the U.S. (she’s Australian), allergist there was a big fuss about how amazing it was that there was this awesome fantasy author from Australia and she wrote these amazing books. I see the fervor’s cooled a bit and I feel like I know why.

It isn’t that the books aren’t good — they are, albeit a bit reservedly. Tropes abound: the orphan who turns out to have super-de-dooper magical powers and is of course so important that she’s going to save the world; even a bit of the romance novel trope that has her falling in love with the first eligible man she meets. (Well, okay, he falls in love with her, but so does everyone else, really. Although she doesn’t recognize it, her feelings are reciprocated with this first guy.) I’m not totally against tropes; they exist and work for a reason in the fantasy world as well as, oh, every other realm (romance, military thrillers, whodunits, even ‘lit fiction’). The orphan who turns out to save the world, though — that one’s a little overdone. (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter, for beating it to death the final time.) Also, the plot runs a little X-Men-y. I don’t really know if that’s a good thing or not. Continue reading Obernewtyn and The Farseekers, by Isobelle Carmody