The Unready Queen – Book Review

The Oddmire #2 By: William Ritter
Published On: June 23, 2020

To be honest, I was not a big fan of the first book, Changeling. There were moments of action or adventure that I found a little boring or underwhelming. And while I liked most of the characters there was one I didn’t like: Fable. Why am I saying what I didn’t enjoy about the first book? Because I rather enjoyed the second book in this coming of age story featuring Fable.

The Unready Queen starts off soon after the events of the first book. Tinn is receiving Goblin lessons and Fable is receiving magic lessons from her mom. Tinn’s lessons are going well. Fable’s are not. Fable would rather spend time in town with Tinn and Cole and even make new friends, such as Evie. While Fable is spending time in town, odd incidents involving fairy folk/forest creatures begin to manifest in town. Things start to escalate after new townsfolk start cutting down forest trees. As a result, tensions rise between not only the forest creatures and townspeople, but also between the forest inhabitants themselves.

Like the first book, the children’s mothers play a important role. But instead of Annie it is Raina, Fable’s mother, that is more central to this narrative. The story explores the relationship between Raina and Fable and parallels what many mother/daughter relationships struggle with. A mother trying to hold on. A daughter wanting more freedom.

What won me over to this book is how multiple story lines are interwoven together to create an overarching plot about the forest vs townspeople. Instead of a single story like last time, Tinn and Cole begin to have their own separate story lines. Fable begins to spend time outside of the forest and is able to learn more about the world. She is still naive, but the experience can only benefit her personal growth. Then various forest creatures, such as spriggans, take a more prominent role that is sure to continue into the next book.

The story ends with a feeling of foreboding and a cliffhanger that immediately makes you want to grab the next book.

Rating: 4 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

Description:

Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.

But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.

Changeling – Book Review

The Oddmire #1 By: William Ritter
Published On: July 16, 2019

Once upon a time, there was a child whom the goblins came to steal, and once upon a time, there was a child whom the goblins left behind.

William Ritter, Changeling

There is a classic feel to Changeling. Here middle grade readers are introduced to goblin folklore, which is then combined with contemporary elements. The premise of this story is mostly based on goblin changeling lore: a goblin substitutes a couple’s real baby for a goblin baby that looks identical. Sometimes the lore describes fairies doing this, but mostly I’ve seen goblins as the main culprit. But there is another folklore element that the story introduces readers too: The Hinkypunk.

It all starts when Kull, a goblin, goes to change one human baby for a goblin baby. Except Kull gets confused as to which is which and has to leave them both there. Everyone in town understands what has happened, but since the two boys are identical no one can tell them apart. Now they just wait for the day the goblin part of the boy reveals itself.

Changeling is very unique in this: Unlike most middle grade novels that separate the children from their parents so the kids can have an adventure, Changeling makes the mother extremely integral to the story. Annie (mother) is hands down my favorite character from the story as it revolves around her love for both boys. For 12 years Annie has raised them, loved them, helped them. No one and not even Kull can tell her that they are not both her sons. It’s a lovely theme and message: You do not have to be blood-related to be loved, to be a family, nor to be someone’s child.

If Annie is my favorite character, then Fable is my least favorite. Fable is an innocent, naive character that at times acts as if she were 5 years old and then other times surprises you by her boldness and loyalty to her new friends. Her naivete she displays contrasted against how she acts extremely bravely and assertively other times felt a little disjointed. In the end, I couldn’t reconcile the different parts to her character.

The story is sweet and adventurous with a lovely message. But there were moments in the story where I needed more dialogue to help bring me into the story as I felt like the action or events were being described to me instead of me experiencing it along with Cole and Tinn. I also didn’t understand why the story needed to take the boys the first wrong direction, but I can’t elaborate without spoiling. But in the end Changeling will certainly be a story that resonates with many readers.

Thanks to Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Description:

Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.