Wow. I should look in my drafts folder more often. I've had this review written for a WHOLE year! Good news for me, I actually have something to post haha
Twelve-year-old Kristina Kingsly feels like the most unpopular girl in her school. The kids all tease her, and she never seems to fit in. But when Kristina receives an unusual Christmas gift, she suddenly finds herself magically transported to the land of Bernovem, home of dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals and the evil Queen Sentiz. In Bernovem, Kristina not only fits in, she's honored as "the chosen one," the only one who can release the land from Queen Sentiz's control. But it's not as simple as it seems. To save Bernovem, she must place the gift she was given, the famous "Magic Warble," in its final resting place. She must travel through the deep forest, climb a treacherous mountain, and risk capture by the queen's "zelbocks" before she reaches her destination. Guided by her new fairy friends, Clover and Looper and by Prince Werrien, a teenage boy, and an assortment of other characters, Kristina sets off on a perilous journey that not only tests her strength but her heart
First Line: "Kristina awoke when the jangling of her alarm sounded right in her ear."
First off, I would like to thank Vailia's Page Turner for running the giveaway that gave me a chance to read this story (And you should go check out her blog, she's always hosting great giveaways!), and secondly I would like to thank Victoria Simcox for being kind enough to allow me to host a giveaway of her book!
This was such a charming read! It is definitely more for the middle grade reader than for the more teen oriented YA, so don't go into the book expecting instalove and love triangles (thank the lord for that!)
Here's what I loved:
- If you cross The Chronicles of Narnia with The Lord of the Rings, you get The Magic Warble
- Kristina's family is so very much what family is like when you're twelve (in most households anyway). Her parents clearly love her, but they are also clearly out of the loop when it comes to Kristina's relationships to other people and how she feels.
- I love Raymond! Rats aren't generally thought of as pets, but I would love to have a rat like Raymond as a pet! It also suits Kristina that she doesn't have a "usual" pet like a cat or dog.
- Talking animals, 'nuff said
- Kristina is a really great character. She's strong and determined, but she's not superhuman. She feels terrified and isn't afraid to admit it, but she keeps going despite her fears. It makes her so likeable, because she's everything you'd want to be when you are twelve, but she's not a perfect character (which probably would have made me hate her a little bit if I read this when I was twelve)
- Werrien becomes Kristina's first best friend, and it was really sweet seeing them grow to be friends. It wasn't instafriend (my version of instalove for younger readers). They didn't know each other, there were plenty of misunderstanding, but when push came to shove they had each other's backs and they really grew to appreciate and love each other.
- Also Werrien is awesome with the bow and arrow and there's a lot of great action scenes. Not too long which might bore some of your girl readers (some of them...some of us are all about knowing when to use a battle axe or a broad sword), but definitely plenty to engage those of us who love our action scenes!
- The concept of fairy blossom felt new and unique to me.
- Miss Henlsey reminded me so much of Miss Honey from Roald Dahl's Matilda. I instantly fell in love with her! (And I'm really curious what her connection to the Magic Warble is! I mean, I can guess, but I wonder if we'll get any of her story in the sequel?)
Most of what I didn't love as much has little to do with the actual story, and more to do with me as a reader. It's been a long time since I've read a middle grade book that I didn't read when I was a kid. I actually can't think of any at the moment! So it took me a while to get into the story. I think anyone who regularly reads middle grade stories, and particularly the age group it is aimed at will fall in love with the story immediately. If I look at it analytically, you get the perfect amount of time set in our world, getting background on our characters, and then you jump to the magical world and the fast paced adventure starts right away! I honestly have no idea why I didn't jump into the story right away. I also had a hard time with the good vs. evil - and again I think it's because I primarily read stories aimed at older audiences (if we're going to be honest, I probably read more NA than YA since that's a category now). The Magic Warble is full of villains - and the villains are perfectly villainy. Again it reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia - you've got your true evil, and your only sort of evil (there are so many twists and turns in The Magic Warble! I don't want to give anything away, but I was constantly being surprised). I've gotten used to explanations on the truly evil, but it is characteristic of middle grade stories for evil to simply be evil. Overall, I only wish there had been more character development for the secondary characters, but I think part of that is being set up for the sequel. The second half of the book flew by for me! I got really into the story, and when I found out there is a sequel out, I was super excited! It might have taken me a while to relax and get into the story, but when it happened, boy did it happen. I'm definitely going to get my hands on the sequel when I get chance!
Would I recommend it?
Absolutely. Buy this for your younger readers - or really just readers that aren't hooked into the romance aspect of books yet (which generally means younger readers). The cast is a great mix of all genders and species, there's loads of adventure, fairies and gruesome creatures, and some really nice world building.