As I’m in the throes of peak Cybils reading season and trying desperately to keep up with reviews of the books I’m reading now, I thought I’d take advantage of a Sunday at work to pop in a couple of short reviews of the last batch of Cybils finalists, which have been patiently hanging out in my review queue.
The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers. Henry Holt, 2016.
Brine Seaborne has grown up as a servant to the evil wizard Tallis Magus in this 2017 Cybils finalist. She and apprentice Peter have a last-minute escape from his island home and are rescued by the pirate captain Cassie O’Pia of the legendary Onion. Soon they encounter the even eviler wizard Marfak West, who like everyone else would like to find the trail of lost explorer Aldebran Boswell and his search for Magical North and an infinite supply of the starshell that provides magic to everyone. The rollicking adventure story is punctuated by excerpts from Boswell’s journal, hilariously dreadful sounding recipes from pirate cook Trudi’s personal collection, and verses from ballads about Cassie O’Pia, most of which greatly exaggerate her beauty. Also included: a library where only women are allowed, reflections on the appropriate use of power, and understated diversity, as Brine is clearly mixed race but doesn’t know anything about her parents. I am really looking forward to reading the next book in this series, The Journey to Dragon Island, which looks like it will follow Brine and Peter sailing to unfamiliar parts of the world to learn more about her history.
The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore. Adaptive Books, 2016.
Benji and his sister Kelly have been drifting apart, much to his chagrin. He’s exploring a carnival near home when he’s chased by bullies and escapes into a small tent. This turns out to be run by an old man who trades in memories. When he teaches Benji how to take memories himself, Benji is faced with an ethical dilemma – could he make his struggling parents fall in love again by selectively removing their memories? When a clearly evil memory thief, Genevieve, turns up, things get dangerous quickly. This is a high octane adventure that still hits close to home.
It speaks well last year’s Cybils committee and their ability to judge kid appeal that both of these books are currently checked out from my library.