April 12, 2017
Cavern of Secrets (Book #2 in the Wing and Claw series)
by Linda Sue Park
If you haven’t read Forest of Wonders, the first book in the series yet, I’d suggest that you pick it up. Not that you won’t understand Cavern of Secrets without it, but it is such an amazing book. And series books are just that much better when you read them in order, don’t you agree?
Raffa and his friends have spent the winter hiding in the Sudden Mountains. Winter is bad enough but they are all still adjusting to the fact that Garith is deaf. Raffa does all that he can to make Garith’s life easier but his cousin always seems to be mad at him.
Then one night Garith disappears. Raffa wants to go after his cousin — what if he can’t hear danger approaching? What if he gets in trouble? But Kuma convinces him that he has no choice but to let the other boy go. Like all of them, Garith has to choose his own path.
Besides, Raffa has other worries. Echo, his bat who has eaten a plant that allows him to talk, is growing sicker and sicker. When Echo flies away, he leads them to a hidden cave system in which Raffa finds a glowing plant with healing properties. Can Raffa use it to cure-all of the animals that have been given the vine that lets them speak so that they can once again be wild? And if he can should he also cure Echo?
I’m not going to write any more about the plot because I don’t want to give too much away. Like the first book in the series, these characters are marvelously complicated. No one is completely good or completely bad and it makes for a wonderfully complex story.
The story touches on many themes including loyalty and responsibility. Linda Sue Park has created a rich world of magic and science (apothecary), generosity and greed. It is a place your young reader will want to visit if he or she loves fantasy or adventure.
May 10, 2016
Forest of Wonder
Book 1 in the Wing and Claw series
by Linda Sue Park
Raffa Santana is studying to be an apothecary like his mother, his father, his uncle and his cousin Garith. Garith is more like a brother than a cousin and the two do most everything together. This includes journeying into the Forest of Wonder.
There are all kinds of stories about the Forest. As with most places that people rarely visit, most of the stories are exaggeration but there is a kernel of truth. After all, the Forest does change from visit to visit as does any wild place. But the Forest changes more than most and that’s before a mysterious group of people decides to ignore the law.
The forest has always been wild but someone has hacked their way in and set up camp. Preservation makes sense because so many plants that the apothecaries use come from the forest. The two boys have no idea who set up camp or where they’ve gone but before they have a chance to find out, Raffa’s family is summoned to the city of Gilden.
This is where I quit talking about the plot. Like many fantasy stories, it is so complex that the only way to thoroughly describe it is to reiterate it. Honestly, you want to read it for yourself.
As is always the case with Park’s writing, the voice is amazing. It is truly unique without being over-the-top and will be accessible to middle grade readers.
Her characters are also well-rounded and believable. Raffa is gifted and doesn’t mean to make others, especially his cousin, feel less but it happens. When he heals a bat and accidentally grants it the ability to speak, at first he doesn’t see a problem. After all, the bat quickly becomes his friend. But soon he learns that changing an animal also changes what you expect and these altered expectations can have unexpected consequences.
I would definitely recommend this for young fantasy fans as well as fans of Park’s other novels as well as kids who love animals. Share it with the young reader in your life today.