Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Begone the Raggedy Witches: mystical, magical, Irish fantasy

Begone the Raggedy Witches (Wild Magic #1), by Celine Kiernan, (Sept. 2018, Candlewick), $15.99, ISBN: 9780763699963

Ages 9+

Mup is a biracial girl living in Ireland with her family. On the night her Aunty dies, though, things change. The raggedy witches come for her mother; they’ve come to bring her back to their world, the Glittering Land, where an awful queen reigns: and who just happens to be Mup’s grandmother. When Mup’s mother holds them off the first time, the witches take more drastic measures, kidnapping Mup’s father. Mup, her mother, baby brother, and dog set off to the Glittering Land to save Dad, but will her Mam want to come back again, if she gets a taste for power – or survives her own mother?

Fantasy readers are going to be drawn right into Celine Kiernan’s mystical, magical tale. There are talking animals, shapeshifting kids, golden forests, and an evil queen to be reckoned with. Celine Kiernan creates a magical world beyond our imaginations, bringing to mind Narnia and Wonderland. The enchanted worldbuilding will keep your fantasy readers thrilled, and Mup’s heroine’s quest is thoughtful and intriguing. This is the first of a planned trilogy, so get your readers hooked now.

Begone the Raggedy Witches has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Uncategorized

Belfast Noir – Gritty, dark stories from the Emerald Isle

belfast noirBelfast Noir, edited by Adrian McKinty & Stuart Neville (2014, Akashic Books) $15.95, ISBN: 9781617752919

Recommended for ages 18+

Belfast Noir is one of the latest in Akashic Books’ Noir series, spotlighting different cities across the globe. I hadn’t read a good noir story in a while, and I’m always interested in reading a good Irish author, so why not pick up an anthology of Irish noir?

This was my first entrée into Askashic’s noir series, and I was blown away with what I read. The stories, all by Irish writers, all take place in the city of Belfast – a city with a lot of history. That history, particularly the time known as “The Troubles” (the ethnic and nationalist conflict), finds its place here in Belfast Noir, as do other gritty crime stories. Many stories, while dark, are infused with the dark Irish humor I adore. There are 14 short stories in this anthology, including a story from Lee Child, who you may know from the Jack Reacher stories, or his work with Douglas Preston.

This is a great anthology of modern-day noir. The stories are gritty, exploring topics including drug use, brutality, death, and weapons-running. I wouldn’t suggest these for anyone younger than 18, but I do highly suggest them for any adult collection.


Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Tween Reads

Book Review: Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion, 2002)

Recommended for ages 9-13

When Artemis Fowl was published almost ten years ago, it was hailed as the next Harry Potter type series in terms of kids’ blockbusters. There have been seven novels, plus graphic novels, since, and while it hasn’t reached the Harry Potter level of mania with readers young and old, it is a strong series that has managed to remain on the shelves over the past decade – not something many books can claim these days.

Artemis Fowl the Second is a boy genius and the son of a missing crime lord. To find his father restore his family’s reputation, he needs some help. In this case, “help” means getting a copy of the Rule Book from the Fairy World – because in this world, they are real and they don’t want us to know it – and finding out their secrets to use against them. But now he’s got the attention of the LEPrecon (the Lower Elements Police), and dealing with magic is never predictable.

It took a while for me to warm up to this book. I did not like Artemis, for starters. He is supposed to be an anti-hero, but there was not enough of him to give me a connection; I only thought of him as an annoying kid too smart for his own good for about 3/4 of the book. The LEP characters were somewhat more engaging but they needed some time to hit their stride; when they first appear on the scene, they almost seemed like caricatures in the exaggerated speech and description.

There is a prevalent subplot about how we humans, the Mud People, are destroying the planet. Colfer makes it abundantly clear that The People find humans beneath them and hold them in contempt.

There are plenty of Artemis Fowl websites, incluiding the US and UK websites that provide information about the books, book trailers, and games for visitors. Author Eoin Colfer’s website offers links to author information, information about all of his books, and a message board.