YA Book Review: Shimmer and Burn 

Shimmer and Burn, by Mary Taranta, is a YA fantasy novel that dazzles readers with dark magic, hidden kingdoms and intriguing characters. The first of a duology, it is the kind of book that pulls you in to its world and holds you breathless as you learn its dangers and secrets. The prose is rich and detailed while also full of action that at times will stun readers with the depth of its darkness. Yet within it there is also a bright streak of hope that seems to follow its protagonist, Faris, through even the most dangerous adventures.

Faris is a teenage girl living in the hidden kingdom of Brindaigel, where magic and lives are strictly controlled. Living as a servant and caring for her sister, she dreams of seeing what lies beyond the mountains that separate Brindaigel from the wider world. But the people of Brindaigel are not free; they’ve been told they are kept inside the kingdom in order to remain safe from a plague that wiped out another kingdom beyond the mountains: Avinea. But is the King telling the truth? What really lies in Avinea? Faris risks her life to find out, journeying to a land that, unlike the beautiful Avinea of her dreams – is a frightening place where people and magic are bought and sold at high stakes. There, Faris finds herself tied to a beautiful yet dangerous princess, Bryn, and a mysterious magician, North, as she seeks freedom for both her sister and herself.

The strength of this story lies in both the detailed fantasy world and its kingdoms that Taranta has built, as well as the complex relationships between its characters. Faris is a strong female protagonist willing to fight for herself and the ones she loves, yet princess Bryn and magician North are written equally as strong and have enough mystery to keep readers wanting more of them. Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Shimmer and Burn are the quiet ones, when we find that at the heart of this magic filled fantasy is a girl who wants the thing that seems so easily given, yet remains most elusive: the freedom to dream.

This is a magical fantasy that, like its title, both shimmers and burns with a story that will no doubt make many readers fall in love with a young girl seeking the freedom to dream, and to live life on her own terms.

*I received an ARC from KidlitExchange in exchange for an honest review.

Review Links:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2127167595

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R17Z7NKYCEQ7A1/

Stacie Eirich is a writer as well as an avid reader & book reviewer. She holds a Masters Degree in English Studies from Illinois State University. She has published four books of poetry and a children’s novel: Tiger Kingdom & The Book of Destiny. She lives north of New Orleans, and is currently writing her second children’s novel.

Stacie’s Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Stacie-Eirich/e/B01D1QV79W/

https://www.facebook.com/writerstacieeirich

https://www.instagram.com/stacieeirich

https://www.soundcloud.com/stacie-eirich

 

 

Children’s Book Review: The Emperor’s Ostrich

The Emperor’s Ostrich, by Julie Berry, is a whimsical adventure with humor and quirky, lovable characters. While its intended audience is middle-grade readers, it will also appeal to younger readers as well as adults who are young-at-heart. Set in the Empire of Camillion, it is a fun romp through both the castle and the English countryside, and is reminiscent of both fairy and folktales of yore. Even so, this story is also both contemporary and unique in its telling.

The adventure begins when the spoiled, self-obsessed Emperor of Camillion goes missing from the castle. Soon after we are introduced to Begonia, who lives in the countryside and has lost her cow Alfalfa. Begonia, far from being a damsel in distress, embarks on a determined search to find Alfalfa. Along the way she encounters a mustard maker and a mapmaker that are really ancestral spirits in disguise – and a poetic, aptly self-defined “hopeless romantic” boy named Key. These characters, in addition to being both funny and kind, are helpful to her on her journey, even though Begonia is at first quite certain she will travel alone.

This is a story, then, of friendship and the power of kindness as much as it is about having a grand adventure. It is also about embracing differences and loving each other not in spite of, but because of them. This is also perhaps the only book in which you will find a cow and an ostrich in love. And why not? Berry is showing young readers that love is possible anywhere, between anyone – and that life is always better enjoyed with our friends. With fast-paced, witty prose, characters that jump off the page and frolicking fun, The Emperor’s Ostrich is a unique tale with a big heart sure to be enjoyed by many readers.

*I received a free copy for review from KidLit Exchange. Review also posted on Goodreads & Amazon:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2109971151

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RYJV1YDNNTKP/

Stacie Eirich is a writer as well as an avid reader & book reviewer. She holds a Masters Degree in English Studies from Illinois State University. She has published four books of poetry and a children’s novel: Tiger Kingdom & The Book of Destiny. She lives north of New Orleans, and is currently writing her second children’s novel.

Stacie’s Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Stacie-Eirich/e/B01D1QV79W/

https://www.facebook.com/writerstacieeirich

https://www.instagram.com/stacieeirich

https://www.soundcloud.com/stacie-eirich