Merlin’s Wood by Anne Hamilton

Merlin’s Wood

By Anne Hamilton

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

An argument about the washing up and a questionably scientific experiment in an old hollow tree miraculously tosses twins Holly and Reece out of the reality they know and into another world.  Holly and Reece  tumble through fantastic alien scenery right  into a battle to repel an invading force from taking over the alien planet where they’ve landed. Can they convince the bizarre natives they are friends and not foes? Can they trust the ones on their side? Will they ever get home?

This story is a delightful explosion of fantasy. Technology mixes with magic. Amazing beings and their cultures play their part in a chilling society and an even more chilling battle for the planet. Holly and Reece grow from bickering children into selfless adults, learning to value their talents and each others’ as they strive to protect their new friends and return home. Written to include both of their perspectives, Anne explores the differences between the creative personality and the practical personality. Their circumstances force the two characters to grow to understand one another and appreciate the close relationship that plagues them at the start of the book.

The imagery of this book is amazing, giving it a dreamlike quality, full of disorienting but delightful twists and turns. Anne includes just the right amount of description to suggest your imagination see all the wonders without struggling over long descriptions.

I have a young friend with a high reading level for her young years, and this would be perfect for her.

This story contains a refreshing lack of objectionable material. There were no swear words, no inappropriate situations, or other issues that I would worry about discussing with younger kids.

Thanks for another fantastic story, Anne! I can’t wait to read the sequel.

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Many-Coloured Realm by Anne Hamilton

Many-Coloured Realm

by Anne Hamilton

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Children’s

Robertina, or Robby, is in a quandary. Her group school project with partners Neil and Stephen is due and neither boy is stepping up to help. Stephen is a bully and Neil is just plain weird. Robby’s fears that Stephen will harm their odd third partner are put aside when Stephen disappears. In her quest to discover what happened to him, Robby stumbles into a confusing and fantastic realm. Neil isn’t a human boy after all, but part of this bizarre place, and Stephen followed him there only to be trapped in an “immurement”. Tossed into the reality-bending land of the Goblins along with Stephen’s step-brother Chris, they become entangled in a centuries- old conflict between elves and Goblins and are forced to grow more involved in order to free the trapped Stephen. Is the Goblin King being helpful or causing trouble? Can they trust anyone? Why can the penguin Artemys fly–and talk? Can they save Stephen, even if he doesn’t deserve it, and go home? Will they want to leave?

Anne has crafted a fantastic and engaging adventure! She mixes a delightful concoction of fantasy, physics, mythology, and philosophy. The detail of the story was just amazing, with humorous and clever layers upon layers. I felt the natural affection the characters formed for one another through trials of confusing politics and deadly peril.

I really wanted to share this story with my kids, but for an 8-year-old and an impatient 11-year-old, it wasn’t simple-spoken enough even when I read aloud. This is really a Young Adult novel. The publisher has classified it as childrens’ fiction for some reason, but it is really more age-appropriate for young adults. The words were complex and too rich for younger readers to easily comprehend. I do know a 10-year-old with a college reading level for whom this might be perfect, though! I’ll put in a comment when I’ve gotten it to her. Her mom is always looking for reading-level-appropriate material that isn’t too adult.

As an adult who enjoys young adult and even children’s fiction, this book was wholly enjoyable. It exercised my brain while I enjoyed it too. It really was so well-packed that I could read it a few more times and still discover new things. Maybe I will if my friend’s little girl will ever let me have it back once she’s gotten her hands on it.

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