Chivalry thrives in Kevis Hendrickson's The Legend of Witch Bane. Three young siblings, born of royalty, become the only hope of saving an entire kingdom when evil pervades the landscape. A sorceress has placed a spell upon the people of Kaldan in retaliation for disobedience, forcing them into a deep slumber from which they cannot be awakened. Only Laris, Kòdobos, and Anyr, children of King Falinn, are immune to the charm and have the ability to seek aid.
So it is with these events that the destiny of the people of Kaldan falls into the hands of the three children. Each weapon-wielding child possesses his or her own unique talents to contribute to the battle against the sorceress Rhiannon. The youngest, Anyr, has the patience and agility of an adult when using her bow and arrow. Kodobos is more impulsive, but as heir to the throne, he strives to become a great knight who will instill honor in his kingdom. As the oldest, Laris holds more knowledge about the dangers they will face, and uses her twin serpent swords with the adeptness of a master.
Though this is a children's book ripe with magic and fantasy, there are some very serious threads running through the story. Much of the controversy centers on Laris, who is but half-sister to Kòdobos and Anyr, born of fairy blood. After her mother's death, Laris was sent to live with her father, King Falinn, who didn't even know of her existence. She is still in mourning and doubtful of her father's love for her. Her many secrets will become evident as the story progresses, but her childhood is a tale of bigotry, ignorance, and deception. With this basis, Laris is also easily manipulated, which results in terrible consequences for the children.
The grandeur and pace at which the children flit from incident to incident is very reminiscent of Peter Pan. In one chapter, they might be outwitting a giant, while in the next, they're battling werewolves or befriending dragons. In fact, Hendrickson has included nearly every mythical being ever found in literature and lore: dragons, fairies, giants, ogres, vampires, and many more. Popular fairy tales are woven into the story under a new guise. For example, The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe becomes Hazel, abusive housemother to hundreds of Kinderlings.
The events that transpire indicate there will be a sequel to The Legend of Witch Bane, which is good news. There are so many routes a sequel could take, and Hendrickson has already introduced some elusive antagonists. This will be an excellent series for young readers. The book is truly a tale of high adventure, and reminds children that being pure of heart is a virtue. The Legend of Witch Bane is classic literature for a modern audience.-- Sabrina Williams --Front Street Reviews
Set in the world of Arva, The Legend of Witch Bane tells of the adventures of three young siblings who set forth on a quest to free their kingdom from a powerful and evil overlord. In their pursuit of a means to break the enchantment on their kingdom, they set into motion a series of events that unleashes a great evil and awakens a great hope. The children not only face forces far stronger and skilled than they are, but have to face fears and doubts within themselves.
Kevis Hendrickson's maiden foray into the fantasy genre is an action-packed adventure loaded with epic themes, and yet is still very accessible to a younger audience. The story is packed with many fascinating creatures, from the classic werewolves and dragons to odd ones like the immortal Kinderlings and the forest gardener called a Kifflewop. The story is told from the perspective of a child. I feel this will resonate with younger readers, perhaps inspire them to reach high in their own pursuits. A lot of that has to do with the main protagonists: Prince Kòdobos and Princess Anyr.
The youngest princess, Anyr, is not only the "heart" of the three adventurers, but it is through her that younger readers can relate most to the story. Loved by her two elder siblings, Anyr's contribution to the quest lies in the love she deepens for them, her kingdom, and the people and creatures she encounters. She speaks plainly and frankly, very much like Alice of Alice in Wonderland, and like Alice such plain speech gets her both in and out of trouble with equal frequency! It is her honesty, forthrightness, and prosaic nature that keeps her safe, protects others, and moves her forward despite hardships - all qualities that inspire young readers to commit to Anyr's quest.
Kòdobos, Anyr's full brother, is surprisingly the "head." Surprising because he's the one that rarely thinks before diving into the fray, his passions always propelling him forward even before he understands the situation. But in Kòdobos we will see the transition, the growth: he develops from a young boy with a half-thought plan to save his kingdom, into a determined boy-king. Aware of his enemy's strength, knowing that failure is possible - but not acceptable - for the sake of those he loves and protects. Younger readers straining to "grow up" will be able to relate with Kòdobos struggles, failures, and insights.
There is a third sibling, a half-sibling, who stands as the most tragic creature of this tale. I am especially moved by the pain in the life of the half-fairy Princess Laris. Ostracized by everyone, she feels prejudices keenly; exploited by those who knew of her nature, she becomes distrustful of everyone; and orphaned by those she held dear, she grows bitter and frightened and determined to be alone. She is a lesson for all readers of this tale - the fantasy genre equivalent of teen angst writ large, causing great suffering as she attempts to understand and transcend all the pain in her life.
I enjoyed Hendrickson's tale for the sadness and poignancy that gives character and personality to an otherwise excellent swashbuckling adventure. I was entertained by his way of keeping the adventure awe-inspiring, while at the same time accommodating silliness and interesting twists. I encourage readers of all ages to sample the wonders of Arva and hear the amazing tale of these unique children.-- Celina Cuadro