Tag Archives: Holly Black
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi.
I have been trying for ages to get my seven-year-old to embrace chapter books. Finding something that has short chapters, pleasantly distracting pictures and an exciting—but not too exciting—plot has been a challenge. For a while I had suspected that the children’s fantasy series The Spiderwick Chronicles would appeal to his love of magical creatures as well as his short attention span. When I finally remembered to put a hold on one of the books, I felt hopeful. We read the first couple chapters of The Field Guide together, hoping if I could get him interested in the first of the five novels that the rest would follow on its own. And it worked! Although he complained a couple times during his required reading time, those complaints became fewer and fewer. He is now on the third book and he read well beyond the 20 minutes and didn’t once ask how much time had elapse.
This was a huge victory, but I’ll never let him know. A quick summary of the first book:
Due to their mother’s financial problems, nine-year-old twins Jared and Simon and their thirteen-year-old-sister Mallory are forced to move into an old abandoned family estate in Maine called Spiderwick Estate. When he climbs in the old dumbwaiter, Jared discovers a secret library on the second floor with a poem loaded with clues which eventually lead him to a field guide to fantastical creatures. They discover that a whole world of faerie folk, brownies, sprites, goblins, exist and in their hands is the secret to finding and understanding them.
Great bedtime read for kids. Exciting without getting scary, clever and interesting, and written by two fantastic children’s/young adult authors.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Curse Workers, Book 1: White Cat by Holly Black.
Here’s an exciting series for teens who like something akin to down-to-earth magic. This series is about a family of curse workers living in New Jersey. Certain people are born with certain abilities. They are known as curse workers, or just workers. With a simple touch of a finger, they can manipulate someone’s emotions, dreams, memories, luck. Some can kill. Some can transform others. The interesting aspect of this is that whenever a worker “works” somebody, the worker is also affected. This is known as blowback. If you erase a memory, you lose a bit of your own. If you manipulate someone’s emotions, your own become unstable for a while. Nevertheless, the organized crime syndicate does not let this stop them. Not knowing who may or may not be a worker has created a world where everyone wears gloves, just in case.
Cassel Sharpe is a teenage boy who comes from a long line of workers. He himself is not a worker, but his grandfather is a death worker, his mother an emotion worker, and his brothers are memory workers. They are all deeply embedded in a crime family. Cassel has spent his life not feeling included because he lacked the skill of the rest. He has also been haunted by the memory of killing his best friend, a girl named Lila, daughter of a major crime boss. But one day, he starts having strange dreams. It would seem a dream worker is communicating with him. But why? He begins to dig and realized that even his own memories cannot be trusted and that everything he thought he knew about himself, and his family, is not what it seems.
This is a unique and intriguing series. It blends the supernatural with the very real angst of being a teenager. Cassel’s life is full of the social stress of high school, compounded with coming from a crime family and being a killer.
Good book for teenagers and adults.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Doll Bones by Holly Black.
It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book for older kids. Now that school has begun, some (retail stores, especially) consider this the kick-off of fall and the Halloween season. If you are into creepy stuff, and especially if you are into creepy old dolls whose glass eyes seem to follow you, this is a wonderful read.
Doll Bones is an interesting book, because it is a ghost story with substance. Partly, this story is about three adolescents, Poppy, Alice, and Zach. They are alway playing make-believe adventures, with long elaborate plots, all of which leads back to the Queen, a creepy old doll that Poppy’s mother keeps locked in a glass case. But it’s also about adolescence, about growing older and changing. It’s about that age where friends begin to grow apart, and where social pressures affect who you interact with and how you interact with them.
Part coming-of-age, part ghost story, part timeless adventure tale, Doll Bones is a finely crafted spooky story from Holly Black, the mind that brought the world The Spiderwick Chronicles. A definite must-read for lovers of scary stories and good young adult literature.