Category Archives: Fantasy

Peter and the Starcatchers: A Prequel

Peter and the StarcatchersHave you ever wondered what happened before Peter Pan? How did Peter meet Tinkerbell?Peter and the Starcatchers is a best-selling children’s novel that was published by Hyperion Books. It is written by humorist Dave Barry and suspense writer Ridley Peterson, the book provides a backstory for the character Peter Pan, and serves as a prequel to J. M. Barrie’s novel Peter and Wendy. It was illustrated by artist Greg Call.This book introduces us to characters both new and old as we explore the high seas.

Peter and his ragtag group of orphans are forced into slavery and being delivered to their new master on the island of Rundoon by the leaky vessel known as The Neverland. Rundoon is known to be governed by a barbaric king, whose acts of torture and abuse–such as the time he fed his father to his pet snake–are well-known throughout the empire. The boys know they need a way out…now! The answer? They needed a leader. Peter gains leader status by being the oldest and, of course, being able to spit the farthest. The orphans quickly realize they need his help and look to him for help in planning a way to escape what appears to be a forlorn fate. This leaky ship is hardly more than a rusty bucket of bolts infested with rats. Life looks grim for the boys as they are being served meals that sometimes…well…are still moving, the boys know they have little to look forward to, even if they could escape the torture and abuse of the second-in-command, Slank.

As it happens, as the ship was loading these poor boys, a large trunk was placed in the hold of the vessel, and locked up tight. There is clearly something very special and magical about this trunk–whoever touches it is healed, begins to sense of the beauty if the universe, and feels a profound sense of happiness and well-being. Peter is determined to find out what treasure this trunk holds, and in doing so he runs across Molly Aster, the only daughter of the man who is scheduled to be the ambassador on Rundoon, and who has–oddly enough–booked his passage separate from his daughter.

Initially, Molly clearly knows more about the trunk than she will tell Peter, but she is forced to take him into her confidence as Black Stache, the most dangerous pirate on the high seas, successfully attacks first Molly’s father’s ship and then heads for “The Neverland.”

What the trunk holds is much more than simple treasure; the contents are so powerful as to be connected to the ongoing struggle between good and evil that pervades the universe. Peter and Molly valiantly try to fight off both Stache and their ship’s own Slank from the trunk, but the battle for it takes a backseat as a violent storm whips up, and all the boys, Molly, Stache, and Slank wind up on an island inhabited by savages where visitors are promptly fed to a vicious beast in order to strongly discourage them from ever returning.

Thanks to Molly and Peter, the trunk of starstuff is safe, returned to the Starcatchers and Molly’s living father. Peter however, in his surviving exposure to the starstuff, has gained the permanent ability to fly. It is also uncertain as to whether or not he will ever age. Peter learns he will be an outcast, and even though Molly will return to London, he decides to stay on the island, so he can be the person he “really is” and not “a circus sideshow”. The orphan boys decide to remain with him, and Leonard Aster creates a fairy, which they name Tinker Bell, to protect Peter.

Peter and the other orphan boys are soon taught by the natives how to build a house, and they learn to survive on the island, which Peter names “Never Land” after finding a plank that said “Never Land” from the ship that wrecked on its rocks as he watches Molly, and only Molly, on the ship containing a few starcatchers, Leonard, Alf, and of course, Molly sail back to England.

This book is filled with wonderful imagination and adventure. I can’t wait to read the next installment in the series.

Millicent Prendergild,
Greenbrier Academy Cybrarian

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Percy Jackson, demigod

Percy Jackson The Lightning Thief

  

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)

By Rick Riordan

 

Publisher: Hyperion/Miramax

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

ISBN: 978-0786838655

Paperback: 392

Recommended for Ages:  9+

 

I have just discovered this series and must say – I am a fan.

 

Initially Percy Jackson seems like your typical twelve year-old, with a closer look however, you begin to notice he has a few problems to deal with. He’s a little hyper, suffers from dyslexia, is a little hotheaded and, unfortunately, keeps getting expelled from school after school because strange (and dangerous) things always seem to happen to him. Trying to keep him safe, his mother desperately tries to get him to Camp Half Blood where Percy can be with other Half-Bloods (one parent is a god and the other mortal) and train to defend himself against the monsters that attack these heroes in the real world. The mystery begins to unravel and the adventure soars as the young hero learns his father is Poseidon, god of the sea, and one of the “big three” of the Olympian gods. Percy must battle mythological monsters like the Minotaur, Furies, and even Medusa.

 

The story is chock full of adventure tying in ancient Greek mythology with a fresh urban feel as the young demigod learns the fate of the mortal world is in his hands as he alone can solve the mystery of Zeus’ missing master lightening bolt and stop a war of epic proportion from erupting between the gods.

 

The book is exciting and suspenseful and I am ready to dive into the next book of this series. This adventure should translate well when it makes its theatrical debut currently scheduled for February 2010. It has great promise to be exciting and action packed.

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The Seven Songs of Merlin [The Lost Years of Merlin book 2 by TA Barron] Book Review

Seven Songs of Merlin (TA Barron)

 

 

 

This series is a prequel of sorts to the legend of Merlin beginning in the early years when Merlin is first coming into his magical powers. This is the second story in the five book series chronicling the great wizard’s youth.

As the story opens, Merlin is 13 years old and has the privilege of attending the great council meeting with the ambassadors of nearly every race of fantasy that reside on the enchanted isle as they must decide what to do with the Treasures of Fincayra. He has been charged with the guardianship of the Flowering Harp to heal the lands for the harp only responds to a heart true and wise – the heart of a wizard.

Having toppled the evil King Stangmar (his estranged father who was bewitched) and freeing Fincayra from a terrible blight Merlin sets out with the magical harp to restore the enchanted world into a flourishing Merlin has only one month to complete a quest to find the soul of the Seven Songs of Wisdom and journey to the Otherworld in order to obtain the elixir that can save his mother’s life. On his quest he makes a number of discoveries not only about his past, but about what lies within. The challenge is enormous. He has begun to discover the powers within him, but has not as yet mastered the ability to control these emerging powers. He has learned some of the stories of the wisdom of the Druids, the Greeks and the Celts, but us far from truly understanding the true meaning of it all. He has learned his true name and pieces of his past but now must also learn the secrets that sleep within his innermost being. He has already lost his father in the battle, and now his mother, poisoned by a deathshadow meant for her son, is the first victim of the renewed surge of evil sweeping the land.

Merlin is an emerging personification of yin and yang. He is full of contradictions that compliment each other and open his eyes to the possibilities of what destiny has in store for him as he follows the winding path to wizardry. Contradiction and controversy are rampant in the epic Arthurian legend, and Mr. Barron has imagineered an early life worthy of these legendary roots as the keeper of knowledge, particularly of the arcane secrets.  

As in all epic journeys, great adventure and unfathomable danger lie in wait for the boy who would be wizard. He must battle the ogre Balor He is accompanied on his great quest by a merlin hawk named Trouble, the forest girl Rhia, and a mournful jester named Bumbelwy. There are captivating characters and backstory for the Arthurian legend that begin to emerge through this tale. This is a tale that will not disappoint the most demanding Merlin fan. It will engage you and take you of the ride of your life.

 

THE SEVEN SONGS OF MERLIN

By TA Barron

Publisher:  Philomel

Genre: Juvenile Fantasy

ISBN:  978-0399250217

Hardcover:  336 pages

Recommended for ages 9-12

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Wizarding Genesis [The Lost Years of Merlin book 1 by TA Barron] Book Review

Lost Years of MerlinThe Lost Years of Merlin is the initial installment of the five book series chronicling Merlin’s life as a boy, a prequel to Arthurian legend. It follows the ambiguous details of Emry’s obscure youth and the path he followed leading to the emergence of his magic and the wizarding name he proclaimed of Merlin. Barron’s imagineering of this portion of the great wizard’s life gives new depth to the renowned character as we see his life through the eyes of a young boy.

 The story opens with a dream sequence foreshadowing a time magic escaped his fingertips to unleash a fire kindled in Branwen’s defense (the woman claiming to be his mother) the very fire whose flames took his sight leaving him blind until he learned to use his gift of “second sight”.

 Emrys, now 12, is desperate to know of his past and why he has no memory of a time before five years ago when he and Branwen washed upon the shore. She claimed to be his mother but would not speak of their past or where they came from. Instead she taught him the lore of the Celts, Druids and those more ancient. She felt his lost memory was a blessing, the young boy considered it more of a curse. The pair shared a lowly hut they constructed themselves on the outskirts of a small village. Whenever anyone from the village was ill or injured, they would come to Branwen bartering for her services as a gifted healer as she was well acquainted with the old ways and herbal remedies. When in need of her services the villagers sang praises to her unique talents, but the truth of the matter was, they were afraid and thought her to be a sorceress or demon. One day the village bully came to their hut and set fire in an attempt to free the village of this “she-demon”, as he and two of his minions grabbed Branwen by the legs and began dragging her into the fire, Emrys’ fear and rage swelled within, coursing and raging as he ran forward trying to help his mother. He could not control it any longer and felt the bully, Dinatius, should burn for this. He could envision the fires and wished they would consume the bully. At the thought, an enormous tree branch shuddered and cracked as if struck by lightening; it fell upon the young bully trapping him as the branches exploded into flames. As the spine shivering shrieks erupted from the inferno Emrys knew what he had done as he plunged into the flames trying to save the boy. His dream vision had come to pass.

 As the young half-blind Emrys struggles to learn the secrets of his past, the magic within him, and his true identity he comes to the realization he must leave this place, returning to the place he had washed upon the shore to make the attempt to voyage back to the mist-shrouded isle of Fincayra, an enchanted isle that lies between earth and sky. He asks the woman who calls herself his mother to join him in his quest. With great sadness she declines, but takes a jeweled pendant from her neck, presenting it to him. She calls it the Galator and tells him its power is great – if it cannot keep him safe it is only because nothing outside of heaven can. Mighty waves crashed over his feeble raft tossing it about as a mere twig on the outraged sea. The storm swelled and he thought about calling upon his powers to save him but after the last fiery encounter with his magic, he became less afraid of the violent storm than trying to unleash a magic he might not be able to control. The waves pounded over him and when he felt he could hold onto his little wooden raft no more the mysterious shrouded isle appeared and he is again washed upon the shore.

 As he comes to and regains a bit of strength he ventures further into the strange land. The colors are so vivacious he can sense them, even through his half-blinded eyes. He can feel the plushness of the forest floor and he meets a merlin, its wing broken in battle with a rat, a strange girl of the forest called Rhia, and a tiny but brave giant named Shim. Emrys discovers that blight has come upon the isle that is somehow entwined with his own destiny.  He must decipher the riddle of the dance of the giants to change the fate of this land and discover the secrets within himself.

 This is an engaging and enjoyable tale you will want to experience many times over. It explains the roots of the greatest wizard of legend and myth in an epic saga filled with wonder and adventure.

 

THE LOST YEARS OF MERLIN (book 1)

By TA Barron

Publisher: Philomel

Genre: Juvenile Fantasy

ISBN: 978-0399250200

Hardback:  336 pages

Recommended for Ages:  9-12

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Where Do Ideas Come From? [The Lost Lake Dig by PW Cross] Book Review

lost-lake-dig 

 

 

Have you ever wondered where ideas come from? This creative tale explains exactly that. It was 1750 on a hot summer day at the swimming hole when Joey first met the strange little man called Frendric. The adventure begins in a parallel universe with a portal right behind Joey’s house where an idea vent was zealously erupting in glowing balls called squirts (small ideas) and gushers (larger ideas).

Frendric is one of the dwarves that mines the ideas. The problem he is faced with is bringing in a large gusher. These gushers are a bit too much for the miners to handle, driving them to insanity, and that is why they need help from a young human – one still innocent enough to be able to see their world and help get the gusher back safely so the ideas can be harvested and get to the human for whom they are intended. Adults, as in many fantasy stories, no longer have the innocence and purity needed for such a task. Young Joey agrees to help them on their quest as long as he can bring his dog, Lady, along and if they want to leave and come back home they are permitted to do so. The dwarves readily agree. As Joey first encounters their world he makes a happy discovery. His best friend Ben (who has recently moved away) has also been asked to join the quest. The boys are thrilled to be together again and eagerly agree to help the dwarves mine the ideas so they can safely be brought into the human world.

There are a couple of elements about this book that make it very special. The story takes place in 1750 which is only important as having a time of historical reference for some of the ideas that have been mined and some they see that glimpse a more current era. Secondly, by giving the dwarves very specific jobs (winders, seers, finders diggers) in the mining and revealing some of the ideas they have discovered, the readers are being presented with some unique learning experiences in a very creative way. This is to be greatly commended.

This story is a wonderful fantasy adventure that leaves the reader anxiously anticipating a sequel.

THE LOST LAKE DIG

By PW Cross

 

Publisher: Appalachian House

Genre: Juvenile Fantasy

ISBN: 978-0966280081  

Paperback: 288 pages

Recommended for ages 9-12

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Dragon Sighting in Orlando! [Magic, Mensa & Mahem by Karina Fabian] Book Review

magic-mensa-and-mahem

 

 

This year’s Mensa World Gathering is being held at the infamous Orlando theme park, BillyBeaver™’s Fantasyland. Since the Interdimensional Gap between the Mundane world and the land of Faerie has not been opened long, the Church has asked a very cynical dragon named Vern and his partner Sister Grace, a High Mage of the Faerie Catholic Church, to chaperone…er, accompany… the members of the Faerie community that have been invited to attend this auspicious event in the human world. The attempt to make sure everything runs smoothly is a purely precautionary measure, of course.  What could possibly go wrong?!

 

Vern is a highly trained private investigator who is quite certain his talents could be better spent in activities beyond babysitting the pranking pixies as faeries go wild in the Mundane world. After all, this “dragon-eye, PI” is an immortal with the knowledge of the ages, and is renowned as a professional problem solver and agent of the Faerie Catholic Church. Needless to say, babysitting a bunch of mischievous magicals is NOT what this hero has in mind for his next big case! It soon becomes very apparent, however, that real trouble is brewing and threats of an upcoming Interdimensional war must be waylaid. The dragon’s mad sleuthing skills play a vital role in solving this humor-laden mystery.

 

Vern’s very cynical quick wit would give even Simon Cowell* a run for his money. The dragon’s sarcastic demeanor totally compliments the poised and calm Sister Grace in a perfectly comical blend as the pair quip their way through a series of unpredictable misadventures like dealing with a dwarf who has high hopes of being “discovered” on his trip to the human world, and elves quite enamored with themselves as they buzz all over the place high on artificial flavorings and declaring war on the state of Florida! Magic, Mensa & Mahem is filled with colorful unique characters that will capture your heart and your imagination.

 

This book is an inspired read. Fabian writes with a quick witted fresh approach that will keep you thoroughly entertained and rolling on the floor laughing. You have to pay attention – you don’t want to miss any of the humorous one-liners or groan-worthy puns in this truly enjoyable tale.

 

 ______________________

*Reference to an overly cynical celebrity icon from the Mundane world

 

 

MAGIC, MENSA & MAHEM

By Karina L. Fabian
Publisher: Swimming Kangaroo Books

http://www.SwimmingKangaroo.com

Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1934041789

Pages: 232

Price:  $13.99

 

 

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Rock of Realm (by Lea Schizas) Modern Day Fairy Tale for the Whole Family

 

 

rock-of-realm1

 

 

 

 

 

Rock of Realm by Lea Schizas is an exciting tale full of adventure, excitement, and surprises.  While written for a young adult audience, the tale is ageless and makes for a great reading experience the whole family can share.

 

Fourteen year old Alex Stone and her best friend, Sarah, have just finished a babysitting job and are heading home. With Alex’s frisky pet German Shepherd Butch, and Butch’s pet squirrel Pops by their side the girls decide to take the shortcut through the park.  Out of nowhere, a small pink stone falls from the sky hitting Alex on top of her head. Nearby the girls find a pouch with gold glitter. While both items seem innocent enough, the girls joke about the possibility of them being magic and recite a chant they had read in a book written by their favorite English teacher. Suddenly, nothing would ever be the same.

 

Being of royal lineage in a parallel world (a little detail her parents had not discussed with her) Alex finds she and her friends have been transported into the alternate realm and are on the adventure of a lifetime. In this world Alex and Sarah can understand everything Butch and the wise-cracking Pops say. They meet new friends who help them on their quest and learn powerful lessons of friendship and love as their adventure unfolds.  Join Alex and her friends as they learn things are not always as they appear.

 

Lea is an amazing storyteller. Her characters are so interesting and colorful you find yourself wrapped up in their tale and encouraging them on their quest from start to finish.

I can hardly wait for the next adventure in this series!

 

 

 

 

 

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