Wednesday, June 12, 2019

MG Fantasy/Adventure review of Thisby Thestoop and the Wretched Scrattle by Zac Gorman, Sam Bosma (Illustrations)

39855028Thisby Thestoop and the Wretched Scrattle by Zac Gorman, illustrations by Sam Bosma
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of Pages: 384
Published:  April 23rd, 2019
Source:  Library

Opening Line:  "It was raining, because of course it was."

Book one, Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain was a Cybils finalist for MG Speculative Fiction in 2018.  Here's the description of the story from Sherry: "No one would have picked Thisby Thestoop to be the heroine of a great adventure. And yet, this foundling girl (whose only friend is a slime named Mingus), who lives in a dungeon, feeding and cleaning up after its monsters, saves a prince and princess. The perilous journey of the two very different girls, Thisby shy and grubby and Iphigenia beautiful and entitled, shows how a friendship can be made under the most challenging of circumstances, and the challenge of maintaining a friendship even when trust is broken. Witty, funny, and full of feeling, with memorable characters, both major and minor, this will appeal to gamers and fantasy fans of all stripes, especially those who are looking for real characters with whom they can sympathize and identify."— Sherry Early, Semicolon 


Book two in the series takes place a year after Thisby first led Iphigenia to safety through the Black Mountain.  Since that time, she's become an adept gamekeeper, she knows all the short cuts, dangers, and monsters that call the dungeon their home.  Everything has always run smoothly under her capable hands.  But now that the King has appointed Overseer Marl to run the Black Mountain dungeon drastic changes are headed her way.  Suddenly the dire rats are acting strangely, there's a mysterious monster on the lose in the dungeon killing the other creatures and there are even rumors that Umberfall is planning to attack the Kingdom of Nth.  One of the Overseer's first decree's is to reinstate the Wretched Scrattle, a race to the top of Castle Grimstone where the winner will become the new leader of the Black Mountain Dungeon.  At first,  Thisby isn't interested in competing to become the dungeon's new master, her heart after all lies in being its gameskeeper, but when it becomes evident that she's needed to save the mountain, Thisby does step up for the challenge. 

I quite enjoyed Thisby's adventures in the dungeon, exploring the underground winding river while avoiding the giant albino alligators and other monsters.  I especially love Mingus, Thisby's slime advisor/friend by her side.  Book two sees the addition of a few new characters that keep things interesting,  like Jono the skeleton who is assigned as Thisby's personal assistant in the dungeon and the twenty-four ghouls put in charge of helping to feed the monsters.  Once the competition gets underway Thisby also meets some of the competitors like Vas the noble who brought along his own hunter, Donato, and conjurer, Bero.  And although Iphigenia isn't helping Thisby directly with the competition, she still has a prominent role in the story.  Overall a highly entertaining story, with beautiful illustrations, especially the full page ones, and a story that is filled with creative twists and turns, and an ending that will have you wanting more.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Guest Post & Excerpt from Keira Gillett's newest book: Alek Mickelsen and the Eighth Fox War


Today I'm pleased to have Keira Gillett, author of the Zaria Fierce Trilogy visit my blog with her guest post and an excerpt from her latest book, Aleks Mickelsen and the Eighth Fox Throne War.  I've been following her series for a number of years and she's always so kind to share her insights on writing and illustrating.  Thank you so much for dropping by Keira!  

First off, thank you so much, Brenda, for welcoming me back to Log Cabin Library! I am thrilled to be here. Some of you may have seen me guest blogging before, but for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Keira Gillett and I am the author of the Zaria Fierce Series. My newest release, Aleks Mickelsen and the Eighth Fox Throne War concludes the second trilogy in the series, which focuses on Aleks, a changeling who just wants to be human and his struggles as forces beyond his control lead him further and further into the fey realm.


One of the things I got to do with this book that I hadn’t done in previous books was illustrate parts of it. Eoghan Kerrigan, the longtime illustrator of the series and I split the interior illustrations 50-50 and threw our creative juices into bringing Aleks Mickelsen and the Eighth Fox Throne War to life. The results I find to be beautiful, distinctive and thought provoking.

With both Eoghan and I working together on this book it reminds me very much of movies, theater, and other arts where many individuals have a hand in creating an overall world and evoking together moods, feelings, and tones to scenes and situations. Both Eoghan and I have artistic educational backgrounds in drawing and illustrating. We have our own style of work and the similarities and differences in our approach to creating works of art are apparent within the book.

For a long time when I was asked by others why I didn’t illustrate my books I would tell them it’s like hiring a plumber to do electrical work in your house. Sure the plumber is a tradesman, and sure the plumber works on houses, but the plumber’s expertise is not in electrical work, so why use the plumber if you know a good electrician? I lacked the confidence to do the job well.

Eoghan’s artwork has this beautiful realism to it. He’s a master of shading and has a real love of trolls and fantasy which shines in the series. My work is much more graphic with elements of pattern to it. I also thought I was too close to the project as I write the series and that might make me blind to what readers may really want to see. Circumstances changed, and with a lot of encouragement from family and friends, I was able to easily and quickly put pencil and pen to paper and draw the world that until now I’ve only painted in words. Their subsequent enjoyment of my pieces was a huge confidence boost, and I am proud to display my illustrations alongside Eoghan’s.  

From what I gather about Eoghan’s process is that he draws mockups for a piece, then when he’s ready to make it the final piece he uses the mockup for reference and starts by lightly using a colored pencil before he moves to artist grade graphite pencils to complete the piece. My process also goes through stages. I rely heavily on references – be it photography I’ve taken or what I find in my environment (figure or still life) and I always start there. I really miss my access to figure drawing classes, but that’s why one has oneself and a camera. From there, I use graphite pencils, art pens, artist grade markers, and sometimes a touch of Photoshop to complete the work.




























What is fun and weird about my art is seeing it before and after I’ve prepped it for the book. Before in person, you will see white and black, yes, but also all sorts of odd color combos like plum purple or robin egg blue hair, yellow wings, powder blue or orange pants, and green jackets. This is because I didn’t have enough tones and shades of gray in my marker set and rather than going out to test and buy those colors, I created a reference sheet, then using my phone converted it to black and white. With it always handy, I know exactly what color to pick to get the shade of gray I want the computer to see when I scan and convert the drawings to grayscale.



The biggest highlight in illustrating my work is the immediacy of it. What’s in my head I can bring out whenever the mood strikes. Unlike Eoghan, as the author, I don’t have to have the book fully written before drawing something as I know what is coming next. It’s also great for me when the writing muse is a little shy to switch gears and keep the creative juices flowing by working on the artwork. I currently have nine chapters drawn for book seven, and about seven and a half chapters written. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words – now if I could translate the art into text I’d be even closer to completing that first draft!




I hope you enjoyed this little foray into the artwork of Aleks Mickelsen and the Eighth Fox Throne War. Be sure to grab your copy today to enjoy all the illustrations and adventures that come with them.



Book Summary:
Newly proclaimed king over all fey, Aleks Mickelsen is a changeling with a lot on his mind and many enemies breathing down his neck. The fey realm of Niffleheim is rife with danger everywhere he looks. A terrible dragon by the name of Fritjof is intent on causing chaos, pitting the fey against each other and starting an interspecies war for the chance of gaining his freedom. Aleks’ biological father wants him to abdicate the throne before his coronation, or else. All that, and he has to impress the father of the girl of his dreams. What’s a bloke to do?



Excerpt:
Emerging from the bowels of the fey realm, Aleks led the way to the Autumn Court. It was probably unnecessary at this point to take the lead, but as the group’s navigator, it was an ingrained habit. They hadn’t made it very far into the plains, when spears with sharp, narrow heads thunked point down in the ground all around them, trapping them in a circle.

“We have to keep creating distance,” Henrik said, grabbing a spear from beside him and lobbing it back.

The dwarves raised round wooden shields, deflecting the attack. As more joined them, the women spread out, spears and axes ready in hand.

“We’re sitting ducks,” Zaria shouted, zapping a hooked spear away from her. It disappeared into thin air, arriving where Aleks knew not.

A set of spears – one barbed, one hooked – shot toward her. She did the same to them as she had the first spear, and retaliated by tossing a fireball at the brigade. They ducked, throwing up their shields, but Zaria once again purposefully aimed high to avoid hurting their foes. She and Aleks did not want a war on their hands. They were trying to diffuse one.

“We have to snuff our lanterns. It’s the only way!” cried Filip. “Turn off your stargazer, Aleks.”

He did, clicking a button within a star cutout on the egg-shaped device. His friends likewise darkened their lanterns, deliberately shattering them against the ground. After a brief flare of light as oil and fuel burned bright, the world went dark, and Aleks had to clear spots from his vision.

It was still night, sometime past midnight, and all was pitch black. The scalloped icy ceiling over the plains offered no hint of recourse. In an instant, the tide had turned, and their attackers were on the defensive. The all-female dwarf unit came to a stumbling, crashing halt.

Aleks couldn’t see it, but he pictured the scene like one of the cartoons he had watched growing up, with one soldier running into another and causing a chain reaction, sending everyone toppling like dominos.

Dwarves shouted and groaned, hurling insults at one another like they hurled spears. Some hit their marks with deadly accuracy, as barbed as some of the real spears lobbed in their direction. Wounded egos and pride ripped through the troop, tumbling them into chaos.

The Ravagers had relied on the light generated by Aleks and the others to direct their attacks. Without it, the soldiers were as blinded by the darkness as Aleks and his friends. Try as they might, none of the female warriors could move for knocking into someone or tripping over the uneven ground. Unlike the dwarves, however, they stayed quiet, essentially becoming invisible to any straining ears close by.

Zaria touched his sleeve, making him jump. “Easy,” she whispered, leaning close. “Do you think you can lead us in the dark?”

Aleks’ fairy power was the ability to navigate on instinct. He always knew where he was going… well, he used to know. Lately, his magic wasn’t always right at hand, and he’d unwittingly taken his friends down many wrong turns and paths; but, they’d always forgiven him, and somehow they’d always ended up right where they were supposed to be. He knew without asking they all had his back.

The inner debate roiled in him. Could he lead them? Glitchy powers or not, Aleks felt certain he could. This was a path he’d taken before, so he had a pretty solid idea of what to expect and where to go. Instead of giving a verbal answer that might give away their position to the nearby dwarves, he took Zaria’s small, slender hand in his and tugged her forward in the dark. She understood him, like she always did, and followed without hesitation.


About the Author: Keira Gillett



Keira Gillett loves painting stories with words and pictures. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting from the University of Florida and has been in multiple exhibitions. When she’s not working, writing, or illustrating she loves to snuggle with her doggie, Oskar. Like Aleks, Keira wishes she could understand her pet. If only Oskar could talk like Airi! You can follow their antics on Instagram with the #oskarpie hashtag.


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                                      Available on Amazon

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

MG Fantasy review of The Root of Magic by Kathleen Benner Duble

42359561The Root of Magic by Kathleen Benner Duble
Format:  ARC Paperback
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages:  224
Publishing:  June 11th,  2019
Source:  Blue Slip Media 


Opening Line:  "Are we going to die?  Wisp asked from the depths of his blankets in the backseat."  


Shortly after Christmas, Willow, Wisp and their mother are traveling home from Canada following Willow's game-saving win in her hockey tournament.  Suddenly, a winter storm strikes causing their car to hit a patch of ice,  slide off the road,  trapping them precariously off the side of a cliff.  They're soon rescued when James and Layla McHenry appear in their snowplow and pull them to safety, just in the nick of time.  The Mc Henry's take them to the town of Kismet, Maine to wait out the snowstorm where Cora has a room all ready for them at her bed and breakfast.  It's as if they were expected.       

It's difficult for the family to settle in at the bed and breakfast, Willow's mother is very concerned about her younger brother Wisp's health as he suffers from a mysterious illness that has baffled doctors and for which there seems to be no known cause, treatment or cure.  Wisp has these bouts resulting in him being hospitalized and their mother is worried about what she will do if he has another episode while they're stranded.  In the meantime, they will continue to follow the Duchad family series of spoken and unspoken rules regarding Wisp's health.  Willow's life has been molded around the things that Wisp can and can't manage,  everything from eating healthy foods, no excitement to treating him with kid gloves like he will break at any moment.  Willow and her brother never have the chance to run or play in earnest together.  Most distressing is that their parents have even separated because of a difference in opinion on the way to manage Wisp's illness.

While in town, Willow meets a local boy, Topher.   Topher has a secret, one that he seems to want to share with Willow about the town, but one that he can't share.  It results in Topher trying to push Willow toward going home.  The longer that Willow spends in town, the more mysterious this little town becomes, even making the town seem creepy, slightly ominous with its hidden secrets and people who appear telepathic.  How will Willow convince her mother that they need to leave, especially when her mom starts to act like they belong here?    

One of the big questions posed by The Root of Magic is the difference between fate and free will.  Fate being that your life is preplanned, already decided versus the free will of choosing your own path, having the ability to change things yourself.  The characters in the story are given an opportunity to know what each day has in store for them, the knowledge of everything that is to happen tomorrow and the time to prepare for it.  A life that is predictable, ordered, knowing what to expect, with less of the stress of the unknown.  Yet, although it may bring peace of mind, what do you give up in the process?  What about being spontaneous, the joy of surprising someone?  What are you loosing with knowing tomorrow?  This is the dilemma that faces Willow when she enters the town of Kismet.  Something she isn't really fully aware of until she meets Topher. Willow's mom's decision seems to be clear, she wants the knowledge of tomorrow, but in the end, its Willow that has to make the choice whether this is a future that she wants.  Even though Wisp is so ill and she longs for the familiar way things used to be before, maybe Willow's also ready to deal with the pain of the unknown.  I really enjoyed The Root of Magic, it gives you a lot to ponder and I always enjoy mysterious towns, especially during the winter.      

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

MG Fantasy Adventure review of Snared: Lair of the Beast by Adam Jay Epstein

40864758Snared:  Lair of the Beast by Adam Jay Epstein
Format:  E-ARC 
Publisher: Imprint
Number of Pages: 256
Publishing:  June 4th, 2019
Source:  Edelweiss Plus

Opening line:  "At the end of a long torch-lit hall, four blinking eyes, each as big as a slither trolls fist adorned a stone arch." 

Book one, Snared Escape to the Above was a Cybils finalist for MG Speculative Fiction in 2018.  Here's the blurb I wrote summarizing the book:  " Wily Snare has never left the Carrion Tomb, where he works as a trapsmith for its cavern mage Stalag, designing elaborate traps to foil treasure seekers. Then an acrobatic elf, a moss golem, and a former knight with a floating arm named Righteous evade all of his traps, ambush Stalag and take his most valuable treasure, Wily himself. They want Wily’s quick fingers, wit, and ability to detect and disable traps to raid some of the most challenging dungeons in the realm. But by the end of their adventure, treasure isn’t important to the group–they have become a family. Snared is an action-packed and heartwarming adventure filled with twists and turns and memorable characters, that’s sure to captivate fans of dungeon crawling."  

 Lair of the Beast is the second book in the series and releases June 4th, I was super excited when I saw on early ARC on Edelweiss, as this was one of my most highly anticipated reads for this year.  

After having defeated the Infernal King, and evaded the traps of one hundred dungeons or more, Wily Snare is still on the hunt for Stalag the cavern mage, who meanwhile has been busy amassing an army.  Stalag won't stop until he can defeat Wily and the whole Kingdom of Panthasos, and once again bring his rule to The Above.  And this time, Stalag has the means to create an indestructible army of neccanite golems.  To thwart his plans, Wily enlists the help of a wise locksage, who sends him in search of an enchanted compass which can point Wily toward whomever he wishes to find.  This will not be an easy task for hidden around every corner there are new caves to explore,  dangers, traps, and monsters to avoid.  And their most ambitious task yet awaits, to not only find but tame a Lair Beast.  A creature who resides at the bottom of the deepest cave in a place known as The Below. 

Sounds chilling right?  A beast to end all beasts, massive in size a cacophony of other beasts meshed together containing three very distinctive heads, and one creepy but seriously cool Lair Beast named Palojax.  Ever since Wily defeated the Infernal King (Wily's father) and assumed his rightful place as the prince of Panthasos, he has been raked with doubt.  Wily places a lot of expectations on himself as a new ruler.  He wants to do right by his people, but he's also in unfamiliar territory.  As a trapsmith, he knew how to get out of a tricky situation, but The Above is more complicated and with Stalag's army constantly invading and destroying villages he has new demands placed on him.  When the villager's say they "want a real king,"  it has him questioning himself that much more.  

Then Wily meets Valor Pelage, a Quellmaster from the Roamabout tribe, probably the only person who has a chance of taming the beast.  She's a bit rash and jumps into situations, but she's also starting to grow on Wily.  In a lot of ways, I think she helps Wily realize that he can't keep putting this much pressure on himself.  It's a valuable lesson to realize that everyone fails sometimes, that it is o.k. to make mistakes.  Making mistakes provides that chance to learn something.  So yeah, there's some really nice messaging and will surely captivate fans of dungeon crawling adventures.                 

Monday, May 13, 2019

MG Fantasy review of The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis

37534756The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Children's Books
Number of Pages:  288
Published:   November 6th, 2018
Source:  Library


Opening Lines:   "Once upon a time in a beautiful, dirty, exciting city full of people and chocolate and possibilities, there was a girl so fearless and daring..."

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart was the Cybils 2017 Middle-Grade Speculative-Fiction winner.  It featured Adventurine, a young dragon who was transformed into a human.  I was really excited to see the second book in the series at my library and eager to read Silke's story.    

From Goodreads:  "Silke has always been good at spinning the truth and storytelling. So good that just years after arriving as a penniless orphan, she has found her way up to working for the most splendid chocolate makers in the city (oh, and becoming best friends with a dragon). Now her gift for weaving words has caught the eye of the royal family, who want to use her as a spy when the mysterious and dangerous fairy royal family announce they will visit the city. But Silke has her own dark, secret reasons for not trusting these visitors …  Can Silke find out the truth about the fairies while keeping her own secrets hidden?"

Silke has started working for the Chocolate Heart as a waitress and delivering handbills to drum up sales.  She's an adept salesperson and really knows how to entice people into coming to the store to sample their delectable chocolates.  She's diplomatic, determined and perhaps a bit overly confident, but she knows what she wants.  She has dreams and aspirations of one day having her own place to call home, one that can't be taken away from her.  I quite enjoyed her desire to be in control of her story, to forge her own way in life.  Adventurine is Silke's best friend, she's fierce, territorial and very protective of her friends and family.  Having the ability to transform into a dragon when she's angry also makes her unpredictable and volatile, it's a good thing she has Silke. who usually can calm her down in these situations.  The two girls really complement each other and would do anything to protect one another.  Their friendship really shines in this story.
   
When Silke's storytelling draws the attention of the Crown Princess, and she's given the opportunity to spy on the visiting fairy delegation, Silke jumps at the chance.  She has unfinished business with the fairies and questions about her parents that she hopes they might have the answers to.  I love how the setting of the story moved from the Chocolate Heart shop to the Palace and the way Silke had to adjust to learning how to be a proper lady-in-waiting, to wear dresses with frills.  She's quite entertaining. I adored her quick wit and ability to get out of almost any situation by telling a story.   I also like the addition of Princess Sofia and hope she'll be featured in a future story in the Tales from the Chocolate Heart series. The Girl with the Dragon Heart has some pleasant surprises,  lovely messaging and fierce strong female characters.    

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

MG Fantasy/Mystery review of The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly by Rebecca Ansari

40535648The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly by Rebecca K.S. Ansari
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher:  Walden Pond Press
Number of Pages:  400
Published:  March 5th,  2019
Source:  
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review via a Giveaway hosted at Word Spelunking for Middle-Grade March

Opening Line:   "Charlie O'Reilly was an only child."

It's been one year since Liam disappeared, poof, vanished without a trace and Charlie still feels his loss.  To everyone else, Liam is the brother that never existed, no one recalls Liam or believes he ever existed, despite Charlie having vivid memories of how irritating his little brother was.  Now Charlie visits with Dr. Barton who says that imagining a brother is "perfectly normal", given the stress that he feels at home.  Charlie's mom suffers from depression and he's been a semi-caretaker for her while his dad is away at work.  He gets the groceries, folds the laundry and is the one who makes sure his mom is taking her medication.  On the eve of Charlie's thirteenth birthday, Liam and Charlie had a disagreement and when Charlie woke up, Liam was gone.  The one year anniversary of Liam's disappearance is coming up and Charlie has a plan to get his brother back.  With a little help from his best friend Ana, maybe they can unravel where Liam is and why no one remembers him.  

The mystery of The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly involves what happened between these two brothers, we know it was something major, but what could've been so bad that caused one brother to make a wish leading to the disappearance of the other?  Early in the story, Charlie begins to have bad dreams, images of himself during the 1800s in Ireland and then later immigrating to the United States.  He's not quite sure whether the dreams are trying to tell him something, but he feels a connection exists between him and the people in his dreams.  Then mysterious things begin to happen at home, his comic books have been rifled through and a note appears telling him to talk to his assistant baseball coach, Jonathan.  It's Jonathan who helps fill in the details about what might have happened to Liam.  Jonathan relays that he was a child who once disappeared and had his existence eliminated after he made a wish to never be born.  Yet, now he's back, although none of his family recognizes him.  Jonathan believes that he has a way for Charlie to get his brother back and with Ana's help they develop a plan to find Liam.  

Jonathan, Charlie, and Ana enter the Asylum for Orphaned Children, a place that was founded over 180 years ago and sits hidden away on the remains of the burned out building.  It's within the Asylum that Charlie is reunited with Liam and learns the truth about what happened on the night prior to his birthday and the secrets that Jonathan has been hiding from Charlie are also revealed.  Their situation soon becomes dire when they all learn that there may not be a way of getting back home after all.  That Brona, the creepy woman who runs the Asylum may have planned for them to be trapped with her after all.  Brona reminded me a lot of the White Witch from The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, the way in which her voice draws Charlie in, comforts him, the dotting causing him to forget his purpose for being in the Asylum.  She's not cold or evil per se but she does try to manipulate him, play on his emotions and there is some creepiness to her motives that comes together nicely toward the end of the book.  

Another aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was the theme of forgiveness.  How the story asks the question of whether we can forgive ourselves for our wrongs, the idea that a life living must include all the good and bad moments. It's the kind of book that leaves a lot of food for thought.   

Monday, April 15, 2019

MG Fantasy Review of The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

40221339The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher:  Walden Pond Press
Number of Pages:  368
Published:  February 12th,  2019
Source:  Library


Opening Line:  " The two sisters were alike in every way, except for all the ways that they were different." 

Iris and Lark may be identical twins, but that's only if you look no further then what's on the surface.  Iris is the practical one, the one that everyone says needs to be more "ladylike."  Iris is Lark's protector, the first to come to her aid and to speak for Lark when she can't speak for herself.  Lark is the creative twin, who invents stories to combat their monsters.  Together they're a team.  It's the way that things have always been.  That is until the moment that everything changed, the moment when their parents told them that they were going to be in different classrooms for fifth grade.  Not only that, but their mother also enrolled them in different after-school programs.  Both girls think this change is unfair and Iris begins to worry about how Lark will navigate school without her. 

 As the school year gets underway, we begin to see changes within both of the girls.  Iris begins to lack a purpose, it's almost like she doesn't know how to act without her sister.  Simple tasks like designing the cover of her composition notebook become stressful and she's unsure of what to do.  Where she was once confident, she's now become timid and feels "twitchy."   Lark hasn't been fairing any better, she's stuck in a classroom with a bully and a teacher (Mr. Hunt) who forces her to do the very things that terrify her like oral presentations and math drills.  Without her sister, she's struggling in class and becoming more and more introverted.  Which worries Iris even more. When Iris tries to talk to her mother about Mr. Hunt behaving like an ogre, things don't go quite as she'd planned.  Instead of listening to her, her mother wants her to embrace the new changes and allow Lark to be her own person.  But how can she when defending Lark and being her voice is something that Iris has always done.                   

Meanwhile, there are strange things happening all over town.  There seems to be a crow watching Iris from outside her window.  Even a new shop opens up with mysterious messages on its welcome easel and an owner who is equally odd.  When Iris ventures in to explore the Treasure Hunters antique store, she ends up walking into more danger than she bargained for.  At the same time, things begin to go missing around town and then in Lark's life.  First, it is small things like a bracelet, a key, one of the dolls from Lark's dollhouse.  Next, it's bigger things from around town, the disappearance of a taxidermied bird and the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture from the Museum grounds.  Then things take on an ominous turn and Iris is the one who needs rescuing.  

The Lost Girl initially begins from the vantage point of a mysterious narrator,  whose identity stays hidden until the very end of the story.  This is a brilliant setup, things are revealed slowly, giving the reader time to really get to know Iris and Lark.   While the main focus of the story may be on Iris, we learn so much about her because of how she contrasts with her sister.  Or how Iris sees herself when she is separated from Lark.  You come to know and love both of them as they struggle to find a way of dealing with being in separate classes, not having each other to rely on as they always have.  It's really a very sad situation.  On the one hand, I totally understand the importance of Lark being able to stand up for herself but to force Iris to watch Lark struggling in class and then not give her any means of helping her sister, it seems cruel.  It's no wonder that Iris begins to feel lost and stressed over worrying about her sister.  They have such a special bond, even a special language that no one else knows.  They see each other, know each other to their very core, their a team.  Not only is it difficult to watch Lark struggling at school, is difficult to watch Iris completely lose her confidence.  There were many times that I wanted to hug these girls, to let them know that they would make it through this.  

Just as we slowly learn more and more about Iris and Lark, the villain of the story is also slowly revealed.  And boy is he creepy and unnerving, the way that he taps into her insecurities, her fear that she might be bad for Lark, that she has no power in her life.  How those around her aren't truly listening to her.  It's kinda like watching a movie hoping the villain gets what's coming to them.  And being happy when they finally do.  In this case, it's girl power and summoning one's inner courage that wins the day.  So if you like sibling stories, strong females, magic that has a cost, and a story that will make you revel when the villain has been vanquished, The Lost Girl is a perfect choice.