The Doorway and the Deep by K.E. Ormsbee

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Synopsis: “Travel back to the enchanting and treacherous land of Limn, where Lottie Fiske has escaped the murderous Southerly king for a while—but other perils are hard on her heels. War is coming to the beautiful world of magic that Lottie has come to love. Events are pushing her to the North, where many answers—about her parents, about her abilities, about this world and others—await. But the road to the north is full of dangers, and so are the answers.” (source)

My thoughts: Noooo! Not a cliffhanger?!!

The torture. The agony of waiting for the next book.

Yeah, I love it.

A red apple tree grows in the heart of Wandlebury Wood. It is a burst of color in a land of silver grass and white-barked yew trees, and out from its trunk step two travelers. The girl takes a small bird from her pocket. The boy takes a deep breath.

The Doorway and the Deep picks up pretty much right where The Water and the Wild left off. [spoiler]Lottie heals Eliot; they go off to Limn together. Which is awesome because when Lottie told Eliot’s dad all about her adventure, he believed her! That’s so rare in middle grade/YA — usually the adults never believe the kids.[/spoiler] There is minimal recap of book one aka no info dump. So if it’s been a year or more since you read The Water and the Wild, or if you aren’t that quick at recalling its events, you may want to refresh your memory before diving into book two.

The Doorway and the Deep is all about the quest for answers that will hopefully end the reign of the Southerly king and save Limn from total destruction. Along the way Lottie continues to hone her keen, wrestle her genga Trouble into obedience (or at least his inconsistent cooperation), navigate relationships with friends, allies, and a potential boyfriend (come on, we knew it was bound to happen), and struggle with the uncertainty of who she is and what she’s capable of.

This book is a page-turner; there’s a lot going on and, as my opening remarks all so subtly alluded to, the ending will leave readers wanting the next book immediately.

Highly recommended to young readers ages 8-12 especially if they’re seeking a strong female lead who isn’t perfect but still worthy of respect, if they love the idea of carrying around an adorable magical little bird in their pocket, if they’ve always dreamed of having a special ability. Or, if they’re dealing with a close friend or relative living with a terminal illness. This series has a lot to offer readers of all ages. So why aren’t more people reading these books?!!

Author’s website | Chronicle Books | Add on LibraryThing | Add on Goodreads

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Received hardcover from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment by Kate Forrester

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Synopsis: “The traditional stories of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales transport us to the fantastical world of Celtic folklore. Translated and transcribed by folklorists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the 16 stories in this compilation conjure forgotten realms and rare magical creatures in vivid prose. These timeless tales brim with wit and magic, and each one is brought to life with elegant silhouette art by Kate Forrester in this special illustrated edition.” (source)

My thoughts: The perfect gift for anyone who loves folklore and fairy tales!

Celtic Tales collects and “lightly” adapts 16 stories from four works* published in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The tales are organized into Tricksters, The Sea, Quests, and Romance.

Selkies, wyverns, witches, and giants.
Perilous quests, true love, and animals that talk.

Bold, vibrant illustrations introduce each story. (Have a look at a small sample on the illustrator’s website.) Nearly all of the stories were unfamiliar to me, but I’m relatively new to reading Celtic folklore. My favorite was “The Black Bull of Norroway,” which reminded me of an episode of The Storyteller.

Beautiful hardcover edition! I kept running my hand over the cover, feeling the raised knots, then the title — gorgeous.

Official website | Illustrator’s website | Add on LibraryThing | Add on Goodreads

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Received hardcover from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

*The Scottish Fairy Book, Wonder Tales of Ancient Wales, Folk Tales of Brittany, and Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.

The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee

Rating: 4 of 5

9781452113869A green apple tree grows in the heart of Thirsby Square. Its leaves are a sad emerald and its apples a cheery peridot, and at its roots—starts the story of Lottie Fiske.

My inner 12-year-old self is pouting right now. Why? Because she wants MORE! Like yesterday. In all seriousness, I wasn’t aware that The Water and the Wild was going to have a sequel. However, unlike a lot of the first books in a new series, mostly the YA ones, I’ve read in the last couple years, The Water and the Wild stands well on its own and enticed my natural curiosity about subtle unanswered questions (like where is this other place from whence King Starkling came and what is he exactly?) and what happens next for Lottie, Eliot, Fife, Oliver, Adelaide, and the rest of Limn.

I must read the next book! (Looks like I’ll have to wait about a year for the sequel).

9781452128818The worlds of New Kemble and Limn were vivid, “real” places. Enchanted trees – inside of which were “elevators” used to travel between worlds – keens (individual magical talents), the gengas (magical birds) – loved it all. I also loved that Lottie didn’t have to act like an adult to show bravery, ingenuity and loyalty. She was even a little selfish, at first, in her quest to cure Eliot. She cried openly when any kid would naturally get emotional. But she didn’t whine and she didn’t have a chip on her shoulder. Plus, she’s stubborn and doesn’t back down from bullies.

There were many allusions – Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, the world of Oz, to name but a few – yet Ormsbee’s story felt new with its own unique charm and whimsy.

Author’s website | Chronicle Books

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Received ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.