An engaging and intelligent fantasy: up there with the best of them.

THE WITCH, THE SWORD, AND THE CURSED KNIGHTS

A fantasy in the highest tradition.

Ellie Beetlebump, 12, is enrolled in Roses and Needles Finishing School for purposes of socialization. Her sharp-tongued, highborn mother wants her to become a fairy godmother—and Ellie does too, except that she has witch blood as well as fairy blood, and witches are outcasts in Aurelia Realm. Caedmon Tuggle, also 12, lives in Wisconsin and is depressed and withdrawn over the recent inexplicable death of his best friend, Jimmy. Unable to process his grief, he speaks cruel words to his parents and little sister—words he regrets. When Ellie and Caedmon receive mysterious letters informing them they are recruits for the Knights of the Round Table and must report to Château des Chevaliers, they are puzzled. Ellie expects to attend Fairy Godmother Academy instead, and Caedmon, unaware of the existence of magical realms, thinks it’s a prank. But soon, the two find themselves with 48 other recruits at the Château, where they become friends. Knight training begins, but it’s clear there’s a grave evil threatening all the realms, magical and nonmagical. The intricate plot incorporates references to Arthurian legend as it ultimately builds its own original story. Ellie and Caedmon are perfectly drawn as insecure but determined protagonists, and the story’s themes of courage, friendship, hope, and self-acceptance freshly resonate. Main characters read as White.

An engaging and intelligent fantasy: up there with the best of them. (list of realms) (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5458-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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