Posts Tagged ‘juvenile’

Review: The Golden Acorn by Catherine Cooper

The Golden Acorn is a juvenile fantasy book.  In it, Jack Brenin discovers that he is part of a prophesy as the chosen one to save the magical creatures from Annwn that exist in our world:  nymphs, hamadryads, dragons, among others.  Jack is tested to confirm that he is the one that has been awaited; if he fails, the souls of the trees will be lost forever.

The story started out a bit slow and I thought that the writing was a bit stilted. But the further I moved into the story, the writing appeared to get better, albeit with much less depth than Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, etc.

Because it is a juvenile, the main character took the news about his new role, the existence of these fairy creatures, and talking animals and trees too much in stride. Cooper did show, however, Jack’s nervousness about whether he would demonstrate the full commitment to the ritual; without wholehearted desire, the rite would fail.

The quest consists of finding several lost pieces of a cauldron which will open the gates to Annwn. These plates were lost during the Roman occupation of England and Jack must travel to the past to discover where they were secreted. Unfortunately the denouement seemed almost a bit too easy and fairly late in the narrative.  Cooper didn’t quite summon enough danger. I was also surprised that Jack never considered contacting some of the long-lived characters who lived in that time to assist in the recovery.

In particular, the character of the Druid boy-turned-crow was very likable.  Although mischievous, often stretching the truth, and grouchy, he is true of heart and loyal.

A sequel, Glasruhen Gate, is set up nicely.  Overall, a very nice enjoyable read that works for both adults and young alike.

As of July 2011, The Golden Acorn is still offered as a free download for Kindle applications.

3 1/2  out of 5 stars (finished July 4, 2011)


Currently reading:  The Dolphins of Pern by Anne McCaffrey & The Hot Gate by John Ringo.

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Young adult fantasy from Iowa author

On a whim, I purchased a book on the “local authors” shelf in the juvenile/young adult section of the bookstore, The Magic Thief.

A few hours later, I had finished it. What a wonderful experience!

The book tells the story of a young “gutterboy” who has been surviving on the streets of Wellmeet as a pickpocket and a picker of locks. An easy mark passes him on the street, an old man with a cane. Reaching into his pocket, Conn retrieves a locus magicalicus from the wizard’s pocket. Unknown to him, it should have killed him in short order.

The grumpy, but well-meaning wizard finds Conn intriguing and feeds him and eventually adopts him first as a servant and later as apprentice. Nevery the wizard has returned from exile to determine why the city’s magic is draining away, which will eventually leave it uninhabitable.

The book is told in the first person (from Conn’s point of view) but is interspersed with short passages from the wizard’s personal journal. The journal often punctuates how Conn is perceived outside of himself, and often adds humor to the story.

Conn himself is an endearing character, striving to do his best, and never offering a lie to his master. The bad characters are very clearly bad, as is needed in a juvenile book, but there are a few surprises to be had.

A nice touch is a secret code language which the reader can use to decode short sentences added to the wizard’s journal by Conn (after Conn picks its lock). Simple letter transposition, but I thought it was fun. Also, make sure to read the biscuit recipe in the back — both versions.

Sarah Prineas, the author, is from Iowa City and has added a sequel called The Magic Thief: Lost. I can’t wait to read it.

Both books are available in kindle versions.

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