Book Review: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

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Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo This Newbery Honor Book from the year 2000 was recently made into a movie, which I still haven’t seen (oops), but if you’re like me, you got the impression from the previews that the movie is about a dog, named after a supermarket chain, that charms its way into the hearts of a variety of people, not only because the dog seems to understand what people are saying, but ... Read More »

Book Review: The Crow by Alison Croggon

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The Crow by Alison Croggon   The third of four “Books of Pellinor” continues a fantasy epic conceived on the scale of The Lord of the Rings. It depicts a fantasy world so broad and diverse, a history and culture so deep and detailed, characters so complex, magic so marvelous, and danger so dreadful that it would invite comparisons to Tolkien even without the sensitivity and lyricism of its style. Anyone with the patience to focus ... Read More »

Book Review: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

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The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo This Newbery-Medal-winning book by the author of Because of Winn-Dixie weaves together the story of a servant girl who wants to be a princess, a rat who wants to live in the light, and a mouse who wants to be a knight. Those of you who, like me, read the book after seeing the delightful movie based on it may be surprised to discover how many memorable bits in the movie aren’t ... Read More »

Book Review: The Riddle by Alison Croggon

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The Riddle by Alison Croggon   The second book of the Pellinor quartet continues the quest of a fantasy heroine named Maerad, fated as the “chosen one” to make the decisive choice between light and darkness for the people of a long-lost continent called Edil-Amarandh. Anyone who relishes fantasy with the depth of vision and richness of language of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth must have a look at this book by an Australian poet. And if you ... Read More »

Book Review: The Riddle of the Wren by Charles de Lint

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The Riddle of the Wren by Charles de Lint   Though The Harp of the Grey Rose was the first novel Charles de Lint completed, this was the first that he started; and, vintage 1984, it was also the first that he published. Nevertheless, I am glad I read Harp first, because it eased me into the weave of world mythology and original fantasy that is only a part of what lies behind this book. Cerin’s world, it turns ... Read More »

Book Review: The Harp of the Grey Rose by Charles de Lint

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The Harp of the Grey Rose by Charles de Lint   Published in 1985, this was the first novel completed by a now famous and very prolific Canadian writer, as well as the first of a quartet of books featuring Cerin Songweaver. It establishes a magical fantasy world that figures in still more of de Lint’s books: a multi-layered world haunted by old gods (both good and evil) and by gods older still (who don’t ... Read More »

Book Review: The Whim of the Dragon by Pamela Dean

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The Whim of the Dragon by Pamela Dean   In The Secret Country and its sequel The Hidden Land, a pair of magic swords transported five cousins into a world of magic and adventure – the very world, in fact, that they had invented together over several summers of make-believe games. They found the real version of their fantasy world full of disturbing deviations from what they had dreamed up; yet in its most tragic details, they could ... Read More »

Book Review: The Hidden Land by Pamela Dean

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The Hidden Land by Pamela Dean   This sequel to The Secret Country started life as the last third of that book. Like other second books of three, its splitting-off proved fortunate for the series and for us readers. It’s also a good thing that it’s only the middle of the trilogy, or else its ending would cause actual pain. The middle part of a trilogy should move the story forward and leave you longing for more; ... Read More »

Book Review: The Secret Country by Pamela Dean

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The Secret Country by Pamela Dean   By page 10, I realized that I loved the characters in this book. By page 65, I thought it might be one of my favorite books ever. And though, further on, I felt it might have moved at a brisker pace and involved less quarrelsome chatter between its five young heroes, I never lost the sense that I had stumbled upon a truly fabulous story. This is a ... Read More »

Book Review: The Naming by Alison Croggon

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The Naming by Alison Croggon   Maerad has few memories of her life before she became a slave. She knows that her mother was a bard of the School of Pellinor – one of those people with an innate knowledge of the Speech that holds the true name of all things, people who can perform magic as easily as music. Her mother gave her a harp before she died, and Maerad knows how to play ... Read More »