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The Key & the Flame Hardcover – April 2, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7-Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard hungers for adventure, but she's stuck in Middle America. When her mother's law firm sends the family to Oxford, England, Holly rejoices even as her younger brother, Ben, frets about high-speed Internet access. Once the family is settled into their new home, Holly receives a mysterious key and a cryptic riddle from their cottage caretaker. Holly, Ben, and their neighbor Everett enter the woods and use the key to open a doorway to Anglielle, an alternative, magical England. When Ben and Everett become the prisoners of Prince Avery, Holly finds help from the members of a hidden community that wishes to overthrow the current regime and release magic users and creatures from oppression. They claim she is an "Adept," someone who can wield great magic, and she must access her new powers to help free the boys. Meanwhile, Everett's decision to steal another key has repercussions for them all. Caterer presents an intriguing magical world that is unfortunately diminished by conventional plotting and dialogue. Anglielle's denizens are numerous and memorable, and detailed descriptions of the forest and castle enliven the prose, but the inorganic plot elements sometimes seem prescribed. For example, Everett telegraphs, carries out, and rehashes his decision to betray Holly in such an obvious fashion, it may engender eye rolling. Readers of Angie Sage's Magyk (HarperCollins, 2005) or Bruce Coville's Into the Land of the Unicorns (Scholastic, 1994) will want to follow Holly's adventures even if uninspired plotting prevents an intriguing idea from reaching its full potential.-Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Holly isn’t sure what to expect when she heads off for a summer in England after fifth grade. Her mother has moved the family, including Holly’s stay-at-home father and her slightly younger brother, Ben, to take a temporary position in Oxford, one that comes with a house and, as Holly quickly discovers, deep woods. After her arrival, she meets a local boy and a mysterious groundskeeper, who gives her a strange, ancient key. In her debut novel, Caterer quickly builds a fantasy that involves time travel and switching identities as Holly, Ben, and their new friend Everett enter a tree, using Holly’s key, and find themselves identified as enemy agents by a fantasy analog of thirteenth-century England. Magic creatures, realistic human emotions, and the children’s very different personalities are well knit into a rich drama that lasts the full summer. While the plot is neatly wrapped up by the satisfying conclusion, Caterer leaves room for further adventures in the magical world. Grades 4-7. --Francisca Goldsmith
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442457414
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442457416
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Claire M. Caterer was born in the Motor City and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City with a large assortment of cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, mice, and other creatures. Her childhood was spent reading about and inventing imaginary worlds.

Claire holds a degree in French from the University of Kansas and spent several years working in publishing in New York City. Today she lives in the Kansas City metro area not far from where she grew up. She shares her home with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a host of imaginary friends. Because she never properly grew up, she spends her time writing the kinds of stories she loved as a child and still loves to this day.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
93%
4 star
7%
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See all 15 customer reviews
The dialogue in this book is VERY realistic.
This Kid Reviews Books
This book was a delight to read and like the Harry Potter series, will definitely be enjoyed by all ages!!
Leigh Dennert
The world building was excellent, particularly the transitions between the two worlds.
Paula Champ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MLBF on April 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my daughter, and then I read it all in one sitting after she went to bed. I found myself completely absorbed in the imaginary kingdom portrayed in the book, Anglielle, and in fact found myself wishing I could go visit Anglielle and see it for myself. Though the main character (Holly) is a girl, the author cleverly switches points of view between Holly and the boys in the book, Ben and Everett, which gives it characters that boys as well as girls can relate to. Watching Holly find strength and special skills she never knew she possessed is delightful, especially for anyone (and isn't this most of us?) who goes through life feeling painfully ordinary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sunny in DC on May 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is fantastic read with a strong cast of truly likeable characters in an imaginary land that you want to return to again and again! I bought it for my daughter and ended up reading it into the night because I couldn't stop reading. It is a true delight and I hope there are more books coming!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KittenKaboodle on May 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Claire Caterer's debut is a time-traveling, wand-slashing tale, with an endearing cast of characters--human, animal, and other--who come to the aid of the book's main character, the plucky and very likeable Holly.

Holly, a bored 11 year old, is in England for the summer with her parents and younger brother, Ben. Holly has longed for mystery and adventure (ah, beware of what you wish for), and the small village near Oxford where her father is posted is the perfect setup for both: sleepy and old, with an ancient castle nearby which you just know bodes something...well, not good.

Almost immediately, Holly steps into a puzzle, with choices to make: What is the key that she's been given? What door does it unlock, leading where, and should she go there? Like any good feisty heroine, Holly is not one to ignore a challenge, and so she, her brother, and new friend Everett soon find themselves in the kingdom of Anglielle. In this alternate olde worlde, Holly begins to realize there's more to her than she knew, and the reader is taken on a medieval ride including castles, invasions and jousts, along with a cast of magical folk and otherworldy creatures (as well as a few humans) all of whom live under the evil Raethius's thumb.

This is a story that picks you up and carries you through gathering action with barely a moment to draw breath, and Caterer's writing is skillful and confident. Here's what stays with me most about it:
1. The voice. Fantastic! Written with levity and a great deal of warmth, some passages had me laughing out loud. (Check out p. 42 in particular. Brilliant!). We're in Holly and Everett's alternating points of view (mostly Holly's), digging deeper into each character as the story progresses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By This Kid Reviews Books on June 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Holly Shepard wanted an adventure but she should have been careful what she wished for. She found herself, her brother, and a friend, plunged into a world filled with magic and swords. Now all she wants is to have her "boring" life back. When Holly enters this new world, she becomes an Adept, a person with magical abilities, which is outlawed. When Holly's brother and their friend are captured by and sentenced to death by the royal family, it is up to Holly to save them and find a way back home.

I really liked the Holly character in this book. It's nice to see a girl main character in a story that has magic as a plot, plus it's a really good character. I like that she is smart, kind, brave and loyal. I liked the character of Everett too. He was interesting. The dialogue in this book is VERY realistic. The writing has a good amount of detail, and every question in this book was answered (except one, but that is one that comes into the mind at the end of the book - "Will they go back?"). The plot is very exciting and awesome! I like how the army that Holly leads (because she's an Adept) executes their rescue mission. The world takes place in a medieval period, my favorite time (next comes Civil War-period and then...) I like the magical twist on the standard "Knights in shining armor"! All the mystical creatures are very cool! I like the Leogryph a lot! I think kids 8+ would like this book!

**NOTE I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Diane D. Wahto on June 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I approached reading The Key and the Flame with hesitation, but as it was written by an acquaintance, I wanted to give it a fair chance. I'm not crazy about fantasy and I'm not a twelve-year-old girl. I do remember being a 12-year old, however, and reading very few stories with girls as main characters. Once I started this book, I got so involved in Holly's adventures I didn't want to put it down. Holly is an interesting character in that she irritates her teacher with her inability to pay attention and follow the rules. Also, she is sometimes unsure of herself, but she finds her inner power when she has to save her brother and her friend from certain death in the fantasy land that seems to be Olde England, which was not so jolly.

Caterer has developed a cast of strange but mostly endearing characters, characters who support Holly in her quest to save her brother Ben and her new friend Everett. It's obvious Caterer has done her research into modern England and the England of the past, where Holly and the boys land after her mysterious key opens the door to adventure.

This is a page turner of a book. It's aimed at pre-teens, but moms and dads will likely find it interesting and fun to read. Caterer plans another installment in Holly's adventures. I can hardly wait.
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