This is book one in The Library series, about a magical library that helps spirits whose stories have been disrupted by supernatural events. After Marcus finds the key that opens the door to the library, he is confronted by a creepy old lady who demands that he “Surrender the key.” Along with his friends, Lu and Theo, Marcus must fight an ancient enemy and protect the library.
I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did an excellent job. The forward gave interesting information about the author and the other books in this series, complete with creepy laugh. The only slightly annoying part was when the narrator read for the librarian who has a Scottish accent. It was a bit distracting.
While this book was much shorter than what I’m used to, the length is perfect for young readers. I was a bit disappointed when it ended so soon. Middle-grade readers will want more of this scary, thrilling adventure. Some may find they want to leave the lights on after reading, but the story is worth it.
This book has also been released as Surrender the Key. There is one more book in the series so far (Black Moon Rising), and book 3, The Oracle of Doom, will be released in October of this year. After reading this book, I am interested in checking out other series by this author including The Pendragon series, and The Morpheus Road series.
Has anyone out there read either of those or something else by MacHale?
Recommended to: Readers in grades 5-8 who are looking for a scary adventure series.
This is an enchanting adventure that kids are sure to love. There is magic, talking animals, danger, friendship, and by the end Raffa realizes that choices (and people) are not always what they seem to be. The plot is unresolved at the end (which makes sense because this is a trilogy), but all three books are already released so it’s easy to continue with Raffa’s adventure.
Highly recommended to students in grades 4 and up, fans of fantasy, magic, and adventure.
I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did an excellent job.
Yes. There is a witch in the woods. There has always been a witch.
– Opening lines
Magical babies are dangerous babies, Glerk tried to remind himself, day after day. When he wasn’t cradling Luna. Or singing to Luna. Or whispering poetry into her ear as she slept.
A story can tell the truth, she knew, but a story can also lie. Stories can bend and twist and obfuscate. Controlling stories is power indeed.
– Chapter 38
Knowledge is powerful, but it is a terrible power when it is hoarded and hidden.
– Chapter 38
The village has always known about the witch, and about the sacrifice. Once a year, the Council of Elders takes the youngest baby and leaves it in the woods to appease the witch. But… the witch (Xan) has no idea why they leave the baby, so she takes it to the village across the forest and gives it to a loving home. Except for Luna… The witch accidentally feeds Luna moonlight (instead of the starlight she usually feeds the babies). The moonlight makes Luna magical. Luna grows up with Xan, Glerk (the swamp monster), and Fyrian (a Perfectly Tiny Dragon who thinks he is a Simply Enormous Dragon).
With characters like Xan, Glerk, Fyrian, and Luna, how could this story fail? The characters are amazing and the world is magical. People have been recommending this book to me all year, but I kept putting it off. I don’t know why, but the cover just didn’t appeal to me. Once I started reading it, I loved it.
Recommended to: Grades 5 & up. Fans of magical stories or fairy tales.
There should have been some sort of warning.
– First Sentence
“Everything is part of the same painting,” as my dad liked to say. “But we are each the artist of our own life. We choose what colors to use.”
– Chapter 1
Cassie is an eighth grader living with her father in Rome, having an ordinary, boring life (except for the fact that she is an American girl living in Rome). One day, Cassie’s father comes to school and yanks her into the car, speeding through the city, blabbering about how much he loves her, how he is going to fix things, and how he should have told her when she was younger. He finally tells Cassie that the Hastati are after her. Cassie has no idea what that means and she thinks he might be crazy, but then a motorcycle pulls up and the rider starts shooting at them. When her dad gets shot, Cassie takes him to the hospital, but he insists she must run to find Brother Gregorio for help. Cassie is terrified and runs to the only place she thinks might be safe, her friend Simone’s house. But when the danger follows her even there, Cassie and Simone must find Brother Gregorio and find out what all of this means.
In her dad’s notebook, Cassie finds this message:
The Guardian will be bound for life once the spearhead is used.
It turns out the Hastati are a two thousand-year-old organization entrusted with one important duty – protect the spear (The Spear of Destiny). The spear can shape destiny, but only certain people can use the power – and Cassie is the last of that bloodline.
I was just an average girl. Things like this were not supposed to happen to people like me. The palette of my life’s painting was gray or maybe a boring variety of beige, not psychedelic neon.
Well, this book starts off running and doesn’t slow down. Cassie is constantly trying to figure out who to trust and how to keep Simone and herself safe. They are racing to find the spear, but they aren’t the only ones. They must figure out baffling clues at every turn and stay ahead of the two factions fighting each other for control of the spear.
This is an edge of your seat adventure that will keep readers guessing until the end. I highly recommend it to kids in grades 4-8 who enjoy mysterious adventure stories with strong female heroines.
When the Iron Glory’s engines rumbled to life for its journey to the uncharted lands, it marked a new future for the world of Solace.
– First Sentence
This book is a fantastic companion to The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. It isn’t a sequel, it takes place in the same world with different characters.
Stella Glass is the daughter of two scientists who are traveling on the Iron Glory to explore the uncharted lands of Solace. No one has ever explored this far west beyond the mountains. The Dragonfly Territories and Merrow Kingdom have finally reached an uneasy peace. They worked together on this ship and representatives from both countries are onboard.
Stella is not permitted to go, but she has planned for months to stow away because she is terrified her parents won’t come back. On the first night, Stella finds out she isn’t the only stowaway. No children are allowed on the ship, but she sees a boy outside the engine room with his hands on the wall. His hands begin to glow, and then his eyes. Stella isn’t sure who he is or what he is up to, but when he passes out, she drags him to her hiding place in the cargo hold. Someone doesn’t want this voyage to succeed, but who and how can they be stopped?
So, in The Mark of the Dragonfly, we met Piper (a girl who connects to machines in an almost magical way), and Gee (a boy who can transform into a dragon). This book continues in the same fantasy steampunk world and the story is in the same heroic adventure vein. Again, I highly recommend it to students in grades 4 – 8. It is just as good as the first.
In the end it was the combination of the two, the end of my little war against Jamie, and the start of the big war, Hitler’s war, that set me free.
– Chapter 1
She was not a nice person, but she cleaned up the floor. She was not a nice person, but she bandaged my foot in a white piece of cloth, and gave us two of her own shirts to wear. Miss Smith was not a nice person, but the bed she put us in was soft and clean, with smooth thin blankets and warm thicker ones.
– Chapter 7
Huh, I thought. Imagine dressing up tables. Imagine wasting cloth to dress up tables.
– Chapter 18
I wanted Mam to be like Susan. I didn’t really trust Susan not to be like Mam.
– Chapter 26
Ada was born with a club foot, and because of this, her mom doesn’t let her leave the house. But that isn’t the worst of it. Ada’s mom (Mam) punishes her by putting her in a kitchen cabinet — sometimes overnight. Mam calls Ada rubbish and tells her no one wants her with her ugly foot. Ada “escapes” this abuse by going somewhere else in her head.
When Ada finds out her younger brother Jamie is to be evacuated with the other kids from his school, she is determined to go with them. The journey takes them to a small village where families have agreed to take in the evacuated children. Ada and Jamie end up living with Susan Smith, an old, grumpy spinster who doesn’t really want them.
Ada is a heart-wrenching character. She has been taking care of her brother all his life, but no one takes care of her. She has suffered unimaginable abuse from the woman who should love her the most. She doesn’t know how to accept love and kindness, and she doesn’t even think she deserves it. Her mother has told her that her foot is messed up because Ada did something wrong.
Susan has her own issues. She recently lost her best friend and suffers from severe depression. Having Ada and Jamie around gives her something else to think about and an important responsibility – a reason to get up every day and engage with others.
Wow. This book is powerful. It is set in England during World War II. I loved watching Ada’s development and bonding with Susan and others in the village. Despite everything Ada has been through (or maybe because of it), she is stubborn and courageous. She is also slow to trust and filled with self-doubt. The last chapter had me in tears.
I recommend this book to kids in grades 4-8 and their adults. I think it will touch their hearts in a major way.