Obviously, being a kidlit writer, I adore all realms of children's literature. I've shared my love of those books and their authors here many times. Other than my admiration for Jane Austen and Stephen King, I don't believe I've ever shared with you my heart for any other adult author. Well, add this next author to that list.
As I contemplated taking my writing seriously a few years back, I happened to be reading an adult book by Jackie Kessler. Can you say LUV? Through her writing, she enabled me to see how much I loved the paranormal, magic, and romance of all things writing. I drafted my first short story after reading that adult book. So when I saw that she'd made the leap to Middle Grade literature, I just had to read.
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Five years ago, the young witch Bromwyn refused a gift from the powerful fairy king. Tonight, on Midsummer, that decision comes back to haunt her. When her best friend Rusty picks the wrong pocket, he and Bromwyn are all that stand between their village and the rampaging fairies who have pushed through the World Door. If they cannot outwit the fairy king and queen before the World Door closes at sunrise, the friends will lose everything—their village, Bromwyn's magic, and Rusty's life.
From To Bear an Iron Key by Jackie Morse Kessler
"Bromwyn turned to face the burning fields. Reaching deep inside of herself, she closed her eyes and touched the core of her power, the place where her magic lived, where it connected her to all of Nature. She held onto that magic, let it fill her almost to the bursting point, and then she cast it out onto the fields. It blanketed the rows of spelt, and she felt as it rode the wind—Air—and then touched the grain—Earth—and then sizzled around the fire."
My Splats: where stubbornness and responsibility meet self-growth and the Fey!
If you're big on fantasy and stretching the natural realm of things, then this is your book. The author creates a quaint setting of eighteenth century small town hustle and bustle. Her writing has an ancient and proper quality to it, giving the story even more tangibility. It breaths and taunts the reader with things of the past and eventually mingles with make believe. It's enticing.
The voice starts out soft, but hints of underlining tension between family members, and even the community at-large. We met Bromwyn in her pre-teen years, cursed by her Grandma until she learns control over her harsh emotions. Basically, Brom is quick-tempered and a tad ornery. Uh-hum ... Can you say middle graders could relate? Yes.
But the reader takes a swift journey to Bromwyn's young adult age, where she's expected to marry her betrothed--who she doesn't even like. An interesting relationship between Mom, Bromwyn, and Grandma unfolds amid magic and witchcraft ... and soon Bromwyn's true purpose, which encompasses the Fey and a test she must pass to come fully into her witch skills. Only, she knows nothing about the test and her Grandma won't tell her what she does know.
As you've surely guessed, Bromwyn's test comes upon her in a surprising way and pulls in Rusty--the only friend she's ever valued. There's adventure and trickery, having to deal with the Fey on her own. But the reader soon begins to see Brom grow, and care about her skills and the consequences of using them. A responsibility births inside her, which is fed by her love of Rusty--a love she refuses to admit. Yet.
At the onset, the sweet, childhood friendship between Bromwyn and Rusty is playful and teasing. Both ignore the obvious tension between them. But gradually, their relationship blossoms into a deeper care and concern for the other, which includes self-sacrifice and risk. As the story climaxes, we see a stubborn girl put others before herself, long to please her mother, and be the pride of her grandma and mentor.
This book is for any lover of fantasy and wonderful writing. Even though it's considered young adult, I'd also recommend it to middle graders, due to the romantic element being minimal.
Read any good fantasy stories, lately? What's your favorite fantasy story?