Book Reviews

Book Review: The Gate of Bones by Emily Drake


The Gate of Bones by Emily Drake The fourth novel in the series that began with The Magickers brings the battle between the young Magickers and the villains of the Dark Hand to a climactic conclusion. I think. It’s hard to say for sure, but it looks as if the “American answer to Harry Potter” is complete in four books. But, as I have noted before, Emily Drake’s writing style is not as transparently clear as J. K. ... Read More »

Book Review: Hatching Magic by Ann Downer


Hatching Magic by Ann Downer The Middle Ages collide with the present day in this exciting, funny, touching story by the author of The Spellkey and The Glass Salamander. Wycca is a wyvern – a roughly cat-like breed of dragon with a talent for hunting down magical vermin (such as rogue spells, demons, and forbidden grimoires). Her master is the king’s sorcerer, Gideon. He knows very well that if Wycca falls into the hands of his rival (and ... Read More »

Book Review: Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville


Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville I was mistaken when I said that the Magic Shop Books were complete in four books. As recently as 2003, this fifth book came out, once more featuring Mr. Elives and his Magic Supplies shop, as well as Ms. Priest and their “immortal vermin” friends, Jerome and Roxanne, the talking rats. This time, the child who stumbles upon the Magic Shop is a painfully shy sixth-grader called ... Read More »

Book Review: The Wizard of Washington Square by Jane Yolen


David and his terrier, D. Dog, have only lived in New York City for a week when they go for a walk in Washington Square Park. David is feeling lonely and bored until he meets Leila, a girl his age who still believes in things like wizards. Grudgingly, David goes along with Leila on an adventure to discover the little, forgetful, second-class wizard who lives under the fountain in Washington Square. The adventure soon takes ... Read More »

Book Review: The Young Man and the Sea by Rodman Philbrick


Samuel “Skiff” Beaman, Jr., is twelve years old and small for his age; but he carries a lot of responsibility. Since his mother died, his father doesn’t do much except drink beer and watch TV. Even when the family’s fishing boat sinks on the last day of school, Big Skiff doesn’t lift a finger. So it’s up to Little Skiff to raise the sunken Mary Rose and repair the damage to her hull. Then he sets out ... Read More »

Book Review: The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds


The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds Walter Edmonds specialized in historical fiction, set in colonial New York. Some of his adult books have achieved near-classic status, such as In the Hands of the Seneca and Drums Along the Mohawk. But generations of children know him mainly as the author of this brief story, which won the 1942 Newbery Medal. Edward Van Alstyne is a long-legged ten-year-old in the time of the French and Indian War. Even so, ... Read More »

Book Review: The Dragon Guard by Emily Drake


The Dragon Guard by Emily Drake This third book in the series that started with The Magickers continues as the most obvious “American answer to Harry Potter” — one that even makes references to Harry Potter, as well as Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings. Set in Southern California, the series follows the adventures of a group of “talented” children who first found out that they were Magickers while attending Camp Ravenwyng for the summer. Now, they are ... Read More »

Book Review: The Curse of Arkady by Emily Drake


The Curse of Arkady by Emily Drake Here is Book Two in a series that could be billed as, “If Harry Potter were an American.” What a difference that would make! Instead of an underfed, mistreated, Quidditch-playing orphan named Harry Potter, he would be a bullied, soccer-playing boy named Jason Adrian whose step-stepfather is rather nice, and whose stepmother worries about him so much that it causes problems. Instead of owls, he and his friends ... Read More »

Book Review: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli


The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli As this book begins, 10-year-old Robin is helpless and alone. Duty to the king and queen have taken his parents away from him, plague has taken his servants, and a mysterious illness has taken the use of his legs. His dreams of being a page and, some day, a knight seem dashed beyond repair. Then, a friar named Brother Luke comes and takes Robin into his ... Read More »

Book Review: Wizards at War by Diane Duane


Wizards at War by Diane Duane The Young Wizards series has always been among my top recommendations when Harry Potter fans ask what to read next. So, I was already thrilled when I found out that this eighth book in the series was coming out. Then I got an even bigger thrill when Diane Duane HERSELF “owled” me through the COS Forums. Do you dig that, people? The author of So You Want to Be a Wizard is a member of your ... Read More »