Today's read is a rich fantasy for middle grade readers...and what a fantasy it is! This one is set in a kingdom with a young pick-pocket, who gets himself into quite the situation. It's on the darker side as there is a boy, who was murdered and a few other characters die magical deaths. Yet, it's not enough to make it overly creepy or gruesome. There's definitely a well-woven plot and tons of rich characters. Oh, and let's not forget magic!
Yep, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. And now, you can read more about it...
THE THREADS OF MAGIC
by Alison Croggon
Middle Grade Fantasy
ages 8 to 12
Pip lives by his wits in the city of Clarel. But when he picks the wrong pocket, Pip finds himself in possession of a strange dried heart in a silver casket—and those who lost it will stop at nothing to get it back. With assassins on his trail and the ominous heart beginning to whisper to him, Pip and his childlike older sister El are drawn deeper into the forbidden world of magic. Now they must seek the help of the secret witches of Clarel and Princess Georgette—who is sick of being a pawn in everyone else’s game—to wage revolution against a chilling king, a power-hungry church cardinal, and an ancient evil they don’t truly understand. A beautifully written adventure full of courage and kindness, The Threads of Magic transports readers to a magical city of airy palaces and rotten slums, of agents of the Office of Witchcraft Examination and midsummer dancing in the Weavers’ Quarter, of dangerous fathers and chosen family
* action packed and fast paced
* witches and royals
* slightly darker read
* male protagonist
Tightly woven intrigue and a vibrant world make this a read which is hard to put down and easy to get lost in.
Pip is a street thief and does his best to keep himself and his younger sister alive. When he gets his hands on a silver box inlayed with jewels, he's sure their fate is about to take a change. That is, until he discovers what is inside. Magic is forbidden, and witches long destroyed and erased from the kingdom, but somehow, he's managed to stumble right into a spell. But this isn't any spell, and his thievery has opened a dark secret, one which threatens to destroy life as he knows it...and unveil a darkness lurking behind the kingdom's facade.
This is a darker tale and does deal with death, murder, and blood magic. So, more sensitive readers should beware. That said, it is still very middle grade appropriate and does push any of these areas too far.
I was looking forward to reading this one and wasn't disappointed. Pip is an orphan with a huge heart. He's quick witted but does make mistakes. If it wasn't for his younger sister, best friend, and new friend (which I'm not going to say who it is because that gives away some of the plot), he'd stumble into more trouble than is good for him. In other words, friendship is important in this book and especially concentrates on the aspect of trust. Family relations also play an important role, and this one involves a mother/daughter one, which is simply warming.
The pacing is well done and molds the world building right in, so that there's never a boring moment. The world forms as the story speeds along, allowing the reader to sink in and feel as if they were joining Pip and his sister in the adventure. There's a lot going on in this book...I did wonder how the author was going to manage to stuff such a complicated plot into only one book...but it's well done. By changing up the points of view as necessary, time is saved and the action is kept front and center. Since the scenes changes hold to the chapters, it's never confusing, either. Unfortunately, the author does do perspective changes between characters sometimes from one paragraph to the other, which jolted, but the tale was intriguing enough to make this only a small stumble. The quick space also allowed a couple more emotional moments to loose their impact and especially one, almost was too shallow to be believable. Otherwise, everything sits wonderfully, and I couldn't put this one down, since I had to see what happened next.
Summed up, this one is definitely worth a read. The world is rich, the tale is packed with adventure, and it never talks down to the audience. So, yep, put this one on your to be read list.