"review" · concenter · fiction · mystery · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy · series · young adult lit

{book} the friday society

friday society coverThe Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Dial Books, 2012.

Hardcover, 437 pages. teen fiction. {owned}

An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns–and the heroines who use them all

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.—publisher’s comments.

That “modern irreverent flare” is the thing that seems to be snagging people’s attention with this read, and I can’t say I was immune. Of the few things anachronism truly has a hard time forgiving: playing with the language is one, so your long sword is made of pvc pipe, but none shall be referred to as “hot.” It’s just too startling.

confession: I am not a Jane Austen fanatic—I like her well enough, can appreciate her and all that, and Emma is hilarious fun. I know that as a female English Major in Literature I am supposed to have read every volume at least three times and swoon at the mention of Mr. Darcy. My reading of Wuthering Heights could be viewed as disrespectful at best. This does not make me immune to a love of the historical period or even ignorant for that matter, but maybe what it does make me is sensitive to the idea that not everyone does take to it; that perhaps the time frame harbors a language and culture that could seem impenetrable to potential lovers of Steampunk—a subgenre which necessarily must reside then and there historically, at least until more envision it further along the timeline.

I was reading a blog post the other day where a mother was trying to find fantasy books that might appeal to a daughter that only likes ‘realist’ fiction—to broaden her genre horizons and share her own love for fantasy. Well, The Friday Society is “contemporary chick lit” in steampunk clothing. A bridgework. And Kress does not approach the genre without credential, so if you worry that she is incapable there is a lovely anthology of short stories (Corsets and Clockwork) in which Kress’ is one of the best. Kress is being deliberate here and I find this bold move fascinating.

AdrienneSteamPress2

{Adrienne Kress. Photo: Tanja Tiziana}

As much as the modern language should have turned me off of the read, I liked The Friday Society. It was light and fun, and I enjoy Kress’ style. I like the feminist inclusions. Cora Bell is remarkable to me because Kress has built in recognizable vulnerabilities with which to commiserate and creates an opportunity to show some self-determination, e.g. Andrew and the kissing and the effort or lack thereof to overcome his distraction. Some young female leads seem immune to that sort of foolishness and I liked this lead for having hormones and not necessitating deep emotional attachment—call me old fashioned that way.

in which I elaborate: We have a strong female protagonist who kisses a young man who is not an actual love interest. She does not end up with him. Turns out that the attraction is not the first sign that they were fated and the make-out sessions (a term used, 256) do not confirm ours suspicions of such. Cora is physically attracted but unsure that she even likes/respects Andrew. She kisses him back because she likes it, and pursues further kisses for the same reason. What does the Cora/Andrew spin tell us? One: Girls experience sexual feelings/response/pleasure, too—even to distracted and foolish extents. Two: just because she likes kissing and is attracted to a male she does not “love” does not make her a loose woman, but rather it may actually be possible if not normal to be sexually attracted to someone not “loved.” Three: just because she wants and enjoys does not render her incapable of applying her intelligence to the situation; which, after validation of the first two points, is awesome to see played out. You are neither a slut nor a freak, but you should be wise. [read 256-8.]

Accusations of being a “tease” are thrown around regarding Cora, but more often with the gorgeous and gregarious Nellie. Nellie who is, like the other two, in the throes of deciding who she is and whom she envisions herself becoming. What responsibility can and should she take for happening to be born physically beautiful?

confession: I flinch at the use of the word “squee.” And Lady Sparkle? I, like Cora, cringed, but Nellie is a dynamic and a personality to be missed. I like Nellie as much as Cora. She seemed ridiculous to me at times, but between her candor and the parrot Scheherazade I was won over. But not completely, not yet; which may have more to do with those moments where I just did not feel “girly” enough. Some women’s fiction alienates me in the same way.

Few of the characters are to be missed, really. Kress has a way with villains (Alex and the Ironic Gentleman is home to some of my favorite villains ever). The non-villainous Raheem and his possibilities have me curious, though I was experiencing a dreadful surfacing notion that I was in for a Charlie’s Angels twist. Fortunately Kress resists the urge to be normal and thus predictable (and I hope this continues). One point of resistance is Michiko. Michiko is not a token character, but one who could and should be an available historical figure to explore in parallel to the other two. She is one of three and Kress develops each of the three along their own paths (in alternating, 1st person, narrative sections), using “happenstance” to intertwine and affect each other until the most natural conclusion could be met.

“Go home, Michiko.” How she wanted to. She missed Japan—the countryside, the food. Understanding what the hell people were saying. (93)

Michiko understands very little English and comes from a very different culture. She carries the easiest explanation for physical bad-assery, but few authors would be this daring. Cora and Nellie click. Michiko takes some work.  It does take time for the three to work together, but Michiko is the more solitary line of the three. She is held most dramatically in in relationship to the others by this sense of fate, paths crossing in various and frequent inventions, all surrounding crimes being perpetrated in their vicinity.

“We’ve already been pursuing this, each of us, in our own way. And somehow we always manage to help each other out. It’s fate. It…it has to mean something. Everything is connected. Right?” She turned to Michiko, who nodded, but it wasn’t clear if she was agreeing with Cora or just humoring her. Nellie still didn’t look convinced. Cora sighed and sat down at the foot of the bed. “Haven’t you always wanted to just do something yourself?” she asked, her voice softer. “To make a real difference? Not for anyone else. Not an assignment or a task. Something that you made the decision to do?” (353)

The Friday Society is an excellent read for a young woman, especially perhaps the ones who take themselves too seriously literarily. Kress infuses a lot of personality and concentrates on building her characters. She has a great sense of humor. At times the crime-story seems frustratingly secondary–probably because it is. I found it a bit ridiculous at times and I acknowledge that that has to do with my aging, but I found the earnestness of it appealing. I’m looking forward to seeing what Kress does with this series.

recommendations: I mentioned young ladies, but young gentleman could do with reading these sort of heroines, too. for those looking for an accessible steampunk or science fiction or historical fiction (Kress is good with tech language as well as detailing costuming, place and normalities without breaking pace).

an author interview by InkyGirl regarding this book.

a Sci-Fi Experience 2013 qualifier

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book list · juvenile lit · recommend · young adult lit

{book list} n’s summer reading recs (pt2)

Yesterday, Natalya began her list of 20 summer reading recommendations, and today we list the second set of ten. These books are in no particular order, and they range across age and content. Enjoy!  ~L

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Yes! Your favorite contributor on the blog is back! (And will hopefully keep updating and more lists and reviews.) This time around I have created a list of some of the best reads for summertime. They are listed from first to twentieth using the criteria of how light (cheerful) or humorous, how thick, how easy to read, and how enjoyable the book is overall. All the books are fantastic, even the last one is great, so you just read them all, or pick the ones that seem to appeal to you. Enjoy and continue to have a wonderful summer!

11. Bridge to Terabithiaby Katherine Paterson (HarperCollins 1977).

I know I promised to stay light, but here I go, a horribly sad book. But it is truly a classic and is still the perfect summer book, a book about two children becoming friends, whose imagination that makes you truly believe in magic. So creative and inspiring, if not bitter- really, really, bitter-sweet, it still ends perfectly–happily even.

12. Alex and the Ironic Gentlemanby Adrienne Kress (Weinstein Books 2007).

A longtime favorite, as you already probably know, I find that this book is readable in every season! But fitting my criteria, it is once more on my list, as it is filled with odd circumstances. Adrienne Kress’ characters absolutely sparkle with extraordinary personalities and her plot never ceases to amaze, no matter how many times you read it–500 times for me and I still grin with pleasure, even though I’ve memorized most of it. It really is the perfect summer adventure story.

13. School of Fear(book1) by Gitty Daneshvari (Little, Brown Books 2009).

Despite its name, this book is a light, off-the-wall, and funny read about a group of children going to a “school” to “cure” their phobias. The school is peculiar and they are not impressed by its methods, as none of them are working, but when tragedy hits and they suspect foul play. Being the only ones that can help, can they set aside their fears? A truly hilarious adventure will make you glad you read it.

[N’s omphaloskepsis review]

14. Page by Paigeby Laura Lee Gulledge (Abrams 2011)

This book is on the line between a graphic novel and a notebook full of illustrations used by our main character to express herself, as she finds a path toward opening up to her new friends, learning to ask for help, and opening up more as they spread joy through art and creativity by projects throughout the city. The author’s own unique vision and creativity makes this book a very enjoyable read.

[omphaloskepsis review]

15. Remarkableby Lizzie K. Foley (Dial 2012)

This is a fun, wonky book where in the town of Remarkable, everybody is remarkable at something, except our main character. This book has a wandering plot, with random coincidences finding connection to form a mystery that only Jane can solve with her unremarkableness. This is just a truly fun story, something light to read.

[omphaloskepsis review]

16. Nationby Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins 2008)

This book is one of friendship and some love, of responsibility and faith towards a religion. After his clan is swept out by a huge wave, a young boy is left on his home island, alone. A young girl, from England is the only survivor of a shipwreck. Speaking different languages and having different cultures, they are speaking to each other only through pictures and motions. Once other survivors come to the island, the pair soon has their own clan to take care of, and with it problems. Reading the two’s interactions is enjoyable and the author has a way of keeping the story fairly light, while still having deep morals.

17. A Tale of Two Castlesby Gail Carson Levine (HarperTeen 2011).

When you hear Gail Carson Levine’s name, you know the story ought to be good. In this book, she creates an adventure where her main character, hoping to be an actor, has to solve a mystery in the castle with only the aid of the dragon. Her brave, witty characters make this read yet another success.

18. The Tiger Risingby Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick 2002).

Though I promised to keep this list light, I could not help but add this fairly sad story by Kate DiCamill. It is a beautifully written book, full of beautiful things and ugly lives and the connection of a girl and a boy held together by a beautiful discovery, and ending with a realistic action of love. A warning: if you want to avoid something sad, I would not read this this season. But it truly is elegantly written story, unfortunately, a little overshadowed by the brilliance and popularity of her other books. If you don’t mind a few tears, you should read this book.

19. The Princess Brideby William Goldman (Ballantine 1973).

You might be familiar with this movie, it has originated from a book, and it is equally enjoyable, I can assure you. The book is a bit lengthy, exceeding one of my criteria, but it is a book of true love, and has some of the best characters and plots I have read.

20. Kingdom Keepers series (Disney After Dark, book 1) by Ridley Pearson (Disney Press 2005).

This adventure does have a little bit of a sinister side, but as long as you are not scared easily and don’t read it before bed you will be fine. The creativity of the author of the conflict is amazing and it is truly a classic, but different adventure.

author creature feature

{author} adrienne kress

I have posted on favorite illustrators, costume designers and directors. I was thinking about posting on favorite authors, but not just any of my favorite authors, but those with whom I want more readers to become familiar. This first post for this feature is a bit of a cheat, but a good one.

For last year’s TalyaWren zine, author Adrienne Kress agreed to an interview with the daughter. I translated those pages into a png file, just right click the file and open in a new tab: kress interview 1.png There are images, an intro by Natalya, a lovely interview, and brief reviews of the books referenced.

Ms. Kress has written an essay for The Girl who was on Fire, has a story in Corsets & Clockwork: Steampunk Romance stories, and has a new (steampunk) YA book coming out in December: The Friday Society; she does Steampunk well. Alex and the Ironic Gentleman is still a favorite of Natalya’s, and its companion Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate is not too shabby either.

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links to Adrienne’s website and blog.

her page at Weinstein Books (from where the above image hails and whose photo originated in Tom Tkatch’s camera.)

"review" · fiction · juvenile lit · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy · series · Tales · wondermous

do what you must

I’m not sure helicopter parents would let their children read this one, so I recommend helping the poor kids out and sneak them a copy! A wonderful read for children and adults alike! I think Frances Hardinge and/or Adrienne Kress fans would like Ms. Tanner. ~ L’s comment on Museum of Thieves at goodreads.com

7507920Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner

Delacorte Press, 2010.

312 pages, hardcover.

Welcome to the tyrannical city of Jewel, where impatience is a sin and boldness is a crime.

Goldie Roth has lived in Jewel all her life. Like every child in the city, she wears a silver guardchain and is forced to obey the dreaded Blessed Guardians. She has never done anything by herself and won’t be allowed out on the streets unchained until Separation Day.

When Separation Day is canceled, Goldie, who has always been both impatient and bold, runs away, risking not only her own life but also the lives of those she has left behind. In the chaos that follows, she is lured to the mysterious Museum of Dunt, where she meets the boy Toadspit and discovers terrible secrets. Only the cunning mind of a thief can understand the museum’s strange, shifting rooms. Fortunately, Goldie has a talent for thieving.

Which is just as well, because the leader of the Blessed Guardians has his own plans for the museum—plans that threaten the lives of everyone Goldie loves. And it will take a daring thief to stop him. . . .

Museum of Thieves is a thrilling tale of destiny and danger, and of a courageous girl who has never been allowed to grow up—until now. ~Publisher’s Comments.

What if there was a place to put all the dark and dangerous and wild things of the world? What would a society look like if its primary importance was protecting the children from every potential malignancy? Walk. Don’t run. Don’t handle scissors! “[Goldie] opened and closed the scissors three times inside her pocket to make sure she knew how to use them” (30).  Lian Tanner’s Museum of Thieves features a Utopia of familiar trajectory. Tanner exaggerates to the point of utter reason, absolute logic and the results are marvelous! Marvelously wretched of course…I mentioned the society was Dystopic, didn’t I?

Good intentions gone rampant. I love these sort of stories. Tanner is especially enjoyable, a bemused voice, openly critical of the ridiculous extents to which people’s logic carries them—or was that the voice of the wise woman character Olga Ciavolga, one of the Keepers of the Museum of Dunt aka the Museum of Thieves? …

Children, are you feeling coddled, overprotected? Allow Museum of Thieves to bolster your argument. Tanner has the imagination, and the veracity of her vision creates delicious tension and very real concern.  I found this particular vision enthralling: The children are so utterly protected, not a scratch, not a fall. What might be a consequence?

The people of Jewel treat their children like delicate flowers. They think they will not survive without constant protection. But there are parts of the world where young boys and girls spend weeks at a time with no company except a herd of goats. The chase away wolves. They take care of themselves, and they take care of the herd.” […] “And so, when hard times come—as they always do in the end—those children are resourceful and brave. If they have to walk from one end of the country to the other, carrying their baby brothers and sisters, they will do it. If they have to hide during the day and travel at night to avoid soldiers, they will do it. They do not give up easily.

“Of course, I am not saying that it is a good thing to give children such heavy responsibilities. They must be allowed to have a childhood. But they must also be allowed to find their courage and their wisdom, and learn when to stand and when to run away. After all, if they are not permitted to climb the trees, how will they ever see the great and wonderful world that lies before them.” Olga Ciavolga (184-5)

There are moments of peril in Museum of Thieves where people almost died because they could not run, because they were waiting for someone to rescue them (83, 93,  300-1).

“Like everyone else in Jewel, he had been protected from every sort of risk and danger when he was a child. There had been nothing to test his courage, nothing to teach him when to stand and when to run. Now he was paralyzed with fear and indecision. […] They were afraid to stay where they were, and they were afraid to go.” (296-7)

Yet, for all the Safety in Jewel, the citizens are not without fear (even before obvious peril strikes). There are the Slavers, piratanical figures lying in wait for the children, so we are told. Then there are the Blessed Guardians, the “Church” of the Church and State governing partnership, who are dreaded. Guardian Hope is especially horrid. Her zeal for the Fugleman (“the leader of the Blessed Guardians and spokesman for the Seven Gods” (22)) among other traits chillingly calls J.K. Rowling’s Delores Umbridge to mind.

Blessed Guardian Hope, as every character in Tanner’s story is, is wonderfully realized. The originality of the story is delightful to experience and as a writer Tanner is more than capable of sweeping the reader into her imagination.

The Museum of Dunt is a marvelous creation. Within its shifting walls and rooms for every occasion of Jewel’s history, from before it was such a sparkling dystopic utopic realization. The building has secrets, wild moods, and very real threats that are simmering, awaiting fools to release them. But not all the contents of the Museum would harm the populace of Jewel.

“Many years ago,” said Sinew, “Olga Ciavolga and Herro Dan and I made a promise to each other. That one day we’d bring some of the wildness back to the city. Not the big stuff. Not wars and famine and plague. Just vacant blocks and dogs and cats and birds. And secret places for children to hide when they want to escape from the eyes of adults.” (198)

The Museum isn’t the only place brimming with wildness. “He looks so little and harmless, thought Goldie. But inside, he’s bigger and wilder than anyone could imagine. And the museum’s the same” (159). And children are the same, certainly Goldie who fairly bursts with “rebellious” action, set upon by an inner wildness (no, not female hysteria, readers of Victorian fiction and non-fiction).

Jewel would repress wildness. Olga Ciavolga would rather instruct it. “You must both learn to think before you act. Whatever happens, remember that there is always a choice. Think of the consequences, and then do what you must” (187). I am considering a cross-stitch pattern for this little gem, “Think of the consequences, and then do what you must.” Goldie does not betray this trust. Tested and empowered, Goldie solves an incredible problem and proves heroic. Her actions from the very first have had consequences, terrible ones, but some brilliant ones as well. Museum of Thieves measures what risks are worth taking and living seems to be the result of it.

“The people of Jewel are like Guardian Hope, with her planks and hammers. They tried to nail life down. They wanted to be completely safe and happy at all times. The trouble is, the world just isn’t like that. You can’t have high mountains without deep valleys. You can’t have great happiness without great sadness. The world is never still. It moves from one thing to another, back and forth, back and forth, like a butterfly opening and closing its wings.” –Sinew (197)

Goldie is not thoughtless, nor is she uncaring of her family. She loves her parents. She has a best friend whom she cares for deeply. She spends the novel emotionally regretting the price her parents pay for her rebellious (yet necessary) action. A parent’s desire to shelter their child is not demonized, nor are children who desire to remain in the care of their parents. The Peter Pan, Toadspit, for all his brusqueness, is for the comfort of family as well.  What the novel does is interrogate what forms “sheltering” might take that is detrimental. That the parents complicity is due to ignorance and cowardice is a complication. The punishment is severe, isn’t it? To not parent the way Jewel Society defines it…

On the whole, the society of Jewel resides in ignorance. Statistics are muttered as reminders that past decisions have been correct. Those in place of power, really the Grand Protector (mayoral figure) and the Fugleman, have manipulative capabilities and some perspective from their differing height. [Interestingly, the Protector and the Fugleman are siblings, so the relationship between Church and State cannot be seen as anything but related/connected.] The Keepers at the Museum have information and importance as well. They have Historical memory and long life spans.

The Keepers are interesting characters, an independent and secretive agency. Oh, and they’re Thieves. Thieves as heroes provokes another challenging idea:

“Perhaps there is a wildness in thieves that speaks to the wildness that is here. Perhaps a thief sees the secret paths, the hidden places.” [Olga Ciavolga] looked hard at Goldie. “Listen to me carefully, child. I do not wish to glorify theft. There are people in this world who think they are better than others, or deserve more. People who would rob their grandmother of her last coin and laugh as they did it. I have not time for such people. To move quietly, to be quick of hand and eye, that is a gift. If you use it to hurt others, even in a small way, you betray yourself and everyone around you.” (122)

Tanner is ever thoughtful. A Tale-teller with an audience in mind, weaving perspectives and leaving the angles for the listener to consider. The text and the reader asks questions and Tanner provides the scenario.

Olga and Sinew and others would recognize and foster Goldie’s potential, her unique abilities, and offer lessons in a few more useful skills. “When hard times come—as they always do in the end—[Goldie is] resourceful and brave.” Of course, that isn’t what certain persons in power wanted at all. Their love and concern aren’t actually real.

For all the potentially “hazardous” messages convicting the helicoptering sort and spurring children to consider their wildness and camouflaging skills, Museum of Thieves is a Tale of one misbehaved girl’s adventure that is deliciously entertaining. There are perils and triumphs, a cute puppy and a blood-thirsty hound, a big black bird that starts with the eyeballs, people with ridiculous names, and soldiers that speak like this: “Is a leedle gel!” (272). Loved it!

Museum of Thieves is Book One of The Keepers Trilogy; although, you won’t feel cheated, Book One could stand alone (disregarding 311-2). I am looking forward to City of Lies (expected Sept 2011). Tanner created a cast and setting of delectable proportions for which I found I was ravenous in Museum of Thieves and will sure to be again in City of Lies.

Think of the consequences, and then do what you must*…

*****

*which is read this book! and purchase me the set.

an awesome site connected to the book.
"review" · fiction · juvenile lit · mystery · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy · Tales · Uncategorized

Cohagan and The Lost Children

Found this one browsing the Library shelves with the daughter.

Was caught by the title and the ominous looking building.

And then there were the 387 pairs of gloves.

The Lost Children by Carolyn Cohagan

Aladdin (Simon&Schuster) 2010.

313 pages (hardback).

Josephine Russing owns 387 pairs of gloves. She’s given a new pair every week by her father, a sullen man known best for his insistence that the citizens in town wear gloves at all times.

A world away, the children of Gulm have been taken. No one knows where they might be, except the mysterious and terrifying leader of the land: The Master. He rules with an iron fist, using two grotesque creatures to enforce his terrible reign.

When a peculiar boy named Fargus shows up on Josephine’s property and then disappears soon afterward, she follows him without a second thought and finds herself magically transported to Gulm.

After Fargus introduces her to his tough-as-nails friend Ida, the three of them set off on an adventure that will test everything Josephine has ever thought about the rules of the universe, leading to a revelation about the truth of the land of Gulm, and of Josephine’s own life back home.~publisher’s comments.

I was fairly certain The Lost Children, the debut novel by Carolyn Cohagan, was going to have the charming ridiculousness that I enjoy in a Children’s book—well, actually any book. I was right. To my continual delight there are plenty of strange quirks to keep me transported.

The narrative is third person, and limited based on whichever character point-of-view the story requires. A change in chapter marks the change in point-of-view. It isn’t difficult.  Josephine is the protagonist, but the other characters lift from the page via their own turns at story-telling. Cohagan carries the movement of the novel off smoothly.

Cohagan writes a fairly dark and perilous tale and I am thinking of putting her villains up in the top ten of the Most Creepy and Chillingly Invented Villains in Juvenile Literature; a high honor to be sure. The Master has me in mind of the Ironic Gentleman from Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress. The Brothers, the aforementioned “grotesque creatures,” are marvelous creations!

It is not just the villains are wonderfully realized, but the others in the cast are engaging as well. Most interesting is how the protagonist Josephine comes out as the least concrete character of them all; not saying she is flat by any means, just that the others are so much more the draw. Josephine is so much in the “becoming” stage that she is hard to anticipate—not a bad thing, just notable. Indeed, much of the story is about Josephine coming into herself, drawn away from the negligence of her own reality.

Josephine falls through a “crack,” a moment that reads like a bit of a Lucy Pevensie, Dorothy, Alice concoction. From here, there is no realization that family and friendship is important, we already know this from before falling through the “crack,” but Josephine gets to participate in the actualization of this idea. If anything, she understands that she has to be more assertive, that she needs to fight for what she needs and wants. This other place equips her in a sense, at the very least it rescues her.

I won’t read much more into themes or meanings. The adventure is entertaining, creepy and daring, and holds a nice turn at the end. One of those you don’t think about until the author shows you and you say, “of course. How nicely done, the way you sneaked up on me.”

***

Cohagan has a definite voice of her own that fans of Kress and Roald Dahl will appreciate; yet the dark edges to her tale is more Cornelia Funke or Kate DiCamillo. The Lost Children favors the darkling humor not at all and the baldly unpleasant realities of Tales and real life more. A sense of whimsy still pervades. And a sense of the theatrical. I was not surprised to read that Cohagan grew up in Theatre, and continues to.  By theatrical, I am inferring that guarantee of brilliant chapter endings and characters with presence (very expressive) and well-timed entrances and exits.

The Lost children is an engaging story that is wonderfully imaginative, decisively original. The 313 pages are light and easy to turn. And the voice begs a read-aloud, even if the reader is alone in a room. There is a lot of sadness but hope as well; a sense of healing in the relationships we do have, even as we linger over the ones lost. There is great deal of humor and a sweetness to balance out the less glittery elements of the story. The proposed audience is 8-12 and the novel seems to keep that younger end in mind. The Lost Children is a welcome book for those anticipating the slightly more perilous adventures found in works by Adrienne Kress, Francis Hardinge, Cornelia Funke… If past 8, still include this one in the to-be-read pile. I’m am adding it to the daughter’s already and was glad to have enjoyed it myself.

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note: some would consider this in relation to their child (if not themselves): a character’s parents are shot and killed, another’s father drowns himself out of grief, The Master’s mother’s death is quite hideously imagined. A part of a tale, a fact but not dwelt upon. I suppose there is a moment of torture, just remembered that. There are terrifying figures, Cohagan sets a fine mood of fear and impending doom. I would still uphold the as-young-as-eight age, but I am aware that some would distrust me for not adding a few “warnings.”

For boys and girls alike. There are plenty of things to delightfully gross a body out : snot, refuse-filled moat, and pigeon droppings to name a few.

If you like Alex and the Ironic Gentleman you will like this… and if you haven’t read Alex than you are missing out; it has a bit of an Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) feel that even those who don’t actually care for Alice might still enjoy.