Gateway to Fourline – Pam Brondos

b00wl6qgig-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Natalie’s in college, struggling to make ends meet, and make her tuition payments, while also sending money home to help her family. When she’s offered a job by one of the theater professors, it seems like a dream come true – a steady job that can pay her tuition.

It turns out that the professor is one of a band of protectors of the king in another dimension that somehow found their way into our world. The king is in danger, and had to flee. They can all be tracked, so they’ve been looking for someone that can take care of themselves to make contact with their supporters in their homeworld, and let them know the king is still alive.

This is pretty much your standard young person gets thrust into a pretty tough situation and grows into it admirably kind of story. It’s not bad, but I’ve definitely read better. And it ends on a really annoying cliffhanger.

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Seaward – Susan Cooper

3c5615fcb98bccd5979494d6177434f414f4141Here’s another reread. This story is somewhat based on Celtic mythology, but draws in two young people from the “real” world. Westerly and Cally have both lost their parents, and in their grief are both drawn into another world where they met Lugan and Taranis – who both have extraordinary powers. They both know that they must reach the sea, and that their parents may be there, but Taranis will do all that she can to prevent them. They must find their way together.

This is a very sweet story – it was published in 1983, so predates the current YA craze, and it’s therefore a lot shorter than you might expect if you came up reading those books. It ages beautifully – the parts of the world that West and Cally come from are recognizable, but not sketched in such a way that they’re limited to any one time.

The Grey King – Susan Cooper

9ab96bcea8ef90659316f2b5477434f414f4141I can’t reread The Dark is Rising without also rereading The Grey King. The other books in the series I have to be more in the mood for, but The Grey King to me is totally linked to The Dark is Rising. It’s actually the first book I read in this series (back in the days when you had to track down hard copies of books, and there was no internet to aid your search).

I can’t tell you what it is about this book that I love so much – it might be the atmospheric descriptions of Snowdonia in Wales, or the way that Cooper seamlessly integrates ancient magic into the modern day (and though this was published more than forty years ago, it has a very timeless quality to it – sure, the kids would have cell phones today, but you don’t miss them).

This book was a Newbury Medal winner, and very rightfully so.

 

The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

5e8e488ea2799085979436a5467434f414f4141Since I’ve been on a rereading binge this year, I had to bring out The Dark is Rising. Set during the twelve days of Christmas, it’s how eleven-year old Will Stanton discovers that he is an Old One – the guardians of the Light, and his first quest as an Old One – to gain the six Signs of power.

This story still completely holds up – though it was written in the 70s, it’s a perfectly recognizable modern day family story, until the ancient British myths and legends surrounding the Old Ones and their power are brought into the tale. I highly recommend this book to any young adult fantasy lover – it’s a classic of the genre.

West of the Moon – Margi Preus

c781b2625125482596c71476977434f414f4141This is a really sweet story, inspired by a note in the author’s great –grandmother’s diary from when she emigrated to America from Norway. Her husband had asked her to take on a young woman from the ship as a maid, because she was young, and on her own. The author’s invented a back story for her, using Scandinavian fairy tales as the back drop. It works really well.

Astri’s father has gone off to America, leaving her and her sister Greta behind with their aunt. The aunt sells Astri to the local goatman, so Astri steals back to the house to find Greta, and they’re off to America. What makes this story is the weaving in of fairy tales, as Astri tries to use them as inspiration when their path grows rough. It’s a really lovely way to tell this story – very sweetly done.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Maggie Stiefvater

6d56c54a20cb6f8596e356f6967434f414f4141In book three of the Raven Cycle, Blue Sargent and the Algionby boys are growing closer to finding Glendower, in many ways because by this point in the story, they’ve acquired powers. This book is about them accepting those powers – in many ways, it’s about growing up.

Adam must accept that he’s a magician, but also that he can stand on his own, and that he decides the relationship he has with Gansey. Ronan’s still caustic, but he’s showing flashes of humanity. Since Blue’s mother went away, she’s learning what that means, and also more about her power. And both Blue and Gansey must look at how they feel about each other, for very different reasons.

This book is a path between important bits in the story – those can work badly if they don’t have enough action of their own, but this one works, and I think it’s because of what I mentioned above. Coming to terms with the tools they need to finish this cycle isn’t as glamorous as finding Glendower, but it’s important, and this portion of the story treats it well.

A College of Magics – Caroline Stevermer

684c34b40dca712597a456d5a77434f414f4141Faris is the Duchess of Galazon, but until she reaches her majority, her uncle’s in charge, and he’s shipped her off to Greenlaw College. Faris wants nothing to do with this choice, but it turns out, her mother has specified Greenlaw in her will, because Greenlaw teaches magic.

This story isn’t all about the college –Faris is not actually meant to practice the magic of Greenlaw – she’s meant for something much bigger, and that will bring her back to Galazon, and the neighboring kingdom of Aravill.

This book was not what I expected – it’s much more than just a school story, and Faris does not follow the typical path of plucky girl hero, and this is truly a stand alone book. It was a very interesting read – I’d love to run into more of these.