Saturday, September 25, 2021

Review: The Crosswood by Gabrielle Prendergast

I was lucky enough to win today's book through Library Thing and love the concept of the Ocra Currents series. The read was short (only about 100 pages), and yet, didn't let that hurt the richness and excitement of the world and adventure. I've noticed that while there are some middle grader readers who devour books no matter how long, there are many others who are book shy. So, packing a great tale into something 'thin' always makes me smile, since it's much easier to get a hesitant reader to pick up something short, rather than place at 200+ page tale in front of them.

And this is also the type of book, which might hook them and maybe, make them a little less reading shy.


by Gabrielle Prendergast
Ocra Book Publishers
Middle Grade Fantasy
120 pages
ages 8 to 12

Fourteen-year-old Blue Jasper takes his younger siblings, twins Indigo and Violet, out for a hike to give their mother a break. One moment the twins are scampering in the trees right ahead of him, and the next moment they are gone. As Blue frantically searches for them, a strange woman appears in the forest claiming to be the Faerie Queen Olea of Nearwood and the twins' real mother. Now because of a magical pact, Blue's mother's life will be in danger if he can't find the twins before the next sunset. Blue must find his way into the magical forest known as the Crosswood and through the dangerous Faerie lands beyond it. Will he be able to find the twins in time? And will they be able to find their way out again? This is the first book in the Faerie Woods series. 



Short and packed with fantasy, magic and adventure, this is a read which lets the secrets of the forest take flight.

Blue is fourteen and sick of helping his mother constantly take care of his very unruly, sibling twins. At ten, one would think they had some sense, but they are always getting into the most ridiculous trouble. When a chance to hide for a breather leaves Blue's mom with a broken ankle...thanks to the twin's antics...he's had enough and breaks the rule of keeping a constant eye on them. The result has them kidnapped by a fairy king and him faced with a fairy queen, who wants to have his life for a contract he never knew even existed.

Young fantasy friends...especially those who don't want to dive into a 200+ page novel...are going to enjoy this one. It starts with a normal boy, who has sibling troubles and can't wait not to help out with them. Anyone who has younger siblings will already identify with him, and those without, will sympathize with his problems. He comes across like any normal kid from school, and, actually is. That's one thing I do love about this tale because his 'usualness' definitely doesn't hinder his ability to experience amazing things and head into a huge adventure.

The author allows hints at something more magical to immediately start weaving into Blue's world without giving away exactly what's going on. The magical world hits with full force and draws the reader in with a bit of curiosity and excitement. It's well done without being overly descriptive. Even the other characters gain wonderful personality without ever slowing down the fast-paced plot. Every character is intriguing and has a hint of exciting magic. It's impossible to say what will come next, making the twists and turns come with delicious surprise. Of course, some of the smoothness of a longer novel is missing, letting the events jump from one right to the next, since this is a short but packed adventure. And still, it flows well enough not to let that hurt the read.

With all of it's richness, the read is still short and easy. At around only 100 pages, it invites even more reluctant readers to take a glance, and the pacing keeps a reader in the pages until the very end. There are hints at more adventures to come, and I'm more than curios to see what Blue will experience next. 

And here she is...

Gabrielle Prendergast has written many books for young people, including the BC Book Prize–winning Zero Repeat Forever, the Westchester Award winner Audacious, and the first two instalments in the Faerie Woods series in the Orca Currents line, The Crosswood and The Wherewood. She lives in Vancouver with her family.

1 comment:

Heather N. Quinn said...

I'm not usually a fan of fantasy but this premise is intriguing. The fact that it's short appeals to me too. It's fun to read short books, especially when they're particularly well written.