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5.0 1
by Jean Thesman

Editorial Reviews

When 14-year-old Charlotte's mother must go to a tuberculosis sanitarium and her father is recalled by the Navy and sent to Hawaii (the year is 1941), she and her siblings and cousins wind up spending the summer at a remote guesthouse on Puget Sound. There, Charlotte begins to notice that strange things are happening to her adopted younger brother, Will�he converses with birds, and at times has no shadow. Meanwhile, a talking cat warns her to stay out of the forest, the same dark forest that draws Will like a magnet. Interspersed with Charlotte's narration are passages about the events in that forest, which is inhabited by all manner of shape-shifting fantastical creatures, from a cranky talking tree to a Fox Fairy who can take on human form, Spirit Lights, unicorns, dragons, and more. These ancient creatures recognize Will as the Fair Prince they have been waiting for to lead them into battle against those who would destroy them and their habitat, but meanwhile they must keep him safe from the evil ones who have taken human form and are staying in the guesthouse. As a "Between," Charlotte is taken into their confidence and is enlisted to help them and Will as best she can, fighting the enemy who would kill them and burn down the woods in a dramatic climactic conflict. "I'm dreaming a fairy tale," Charlotte says at one point, and that's how readers will feel too, as this exciting fantasy blends imaginative creatures with real-life elements. Thesman, the author of Calling the Swan, The Other Ones, and other YA novels, is skilled at creating suspense and leavening it with a bit of humor, too, as the forest beings squabble and in the guesthouse the cousins do, too�I wasreminded a bit of E. Nesbit and her popular fantasies. The ending is a bit rushed, perhaps, after the long build-up, but fantasy-lovers will enjoy this, and the ecological message gets through clearly. KLIATT Codes: J�Recommended for junior high school students. 2002, Penguin Putnam, Viking, 200p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
At first, I didn't think that I would like this book, but as I read more and understood what was going on, I enjoyed it a lot. The book gets interesting when Charlotte notices that something is wrong with her brother, Will. Jonah, a mysterious character, made the book more interesting, and it turned out to be exciting once I had read the first couple chapters. I would recommend this book to middle school readers who like fantasy. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, Viking, 224p,
— Amanda Lang, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-During the summer of 1941, 14-year-old Charlotte, her older sister Meg, and her younger adopted brother, Will, as well as their two cousins, are staying with Mr. and Miss Warder, who run a failing guesthouse called Gull Walk. Charlotte soon notices strange things; Will seems to have a detachable shadow, and a talking cat keeps bothering her. Meanwhile, the ancient denizens of the nearby Darkwood (a wood from which magical creatures have not been driven out or killed) are hopeful that their Prince-Will-has finally arrived to save them from evil Mudwalkers, as they call humans. Will is both excited and frightened to discover his real identity, but protective Charlotte is determined to keep him from giving up his human life. Danger threatens the Darkwood in the form of the evil Fletchers, boarders at Gull Walk. An atmosphere of menace grows, but rather slowly, and when the villains finally attack, the scene is rather anticlimactic. The creatures of these woods-the Fox Fairy, the Midwife Tree, and others-are fascinating, but readers aren't told much about their histories or functions. There are more human characters than are necessary and, compared to the magical creatures, they all seem rather flat; even the Fletchers come across as banal and complaining. The most interesting part of the story, but one that is not developed to its greatest effect, is Will's emotional turmoil as he is torn between his noble destiny and his love of his human family, and Charlotte's dilemma as she realizes that keeping Will human means sacrificing the Darkwood. For a stronger story about a young person dealing with power and sacrifice, read Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising (McElderry, 1973).-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thesman (Sea So Far, 2001, etc.) proposes an inglorious take on human origins in this tale of a teenager caught between an array of magical creatures protecting one of the last "Darkwoods" on earth, and Hunters bent on destroying it. Charlotte begins to suspect that all is not as it seems at the Puget Sound guesthouse where she's summering when she notices that her adopted little brother's shadow has disappeared. After several other odd incidents, she concludes that something in the nearby woods threatens Will-and that the owners of the guesthouse, along with a pair of unpleasant guests, know more than they're telling about it. As it turns out, the unicorns, dragon, shape-shifting Fox Fairy, and other beings tied to the Darkwood have identified Will as an orphaned child of the Fair Folk, a potentially powerful ally against humans, dubbed "Mudwalkers," who were created long ago as playthings by a malicious Chimera, but then escaped to conduct a campaign of destruction against the world's forests. When the possibility that Will might join the residents of the Darkwood spurs a gathering of particularly evil Mudwalkers to set a forest fire, Charlotte joins the successful defense, then goes on in subsequent years to become a renowned naturalist. What with rather nebulous bad guys and several unexplained circumstances, the story's internal logic isn't any too solid, and the ecological message, along with humankind's low origins, is hammered home. But Charlotte narrates in a distinctly personal voice, and the author lightens the tone by casting interestingly rude characters on both sides of the conflict. Ably done, but without the spark of The Other Ones (1999). (Fiction. 11-13)

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.86(w) x 8.66(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

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Between 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a very good book!!this book makes you think if the animals can talk if there are between or fair ones. i realy love this book