From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-A fun and frothy romantic fantasy. Almost abandoned at birth because of a twisted foot, Emmeline has always been an outcast among her people, the Kell. When the king enslaves the men and her village is destroyed in a flood, Emmeline is taken in by Owen Oak and his family. She discovers that she can churn butter into chocolate-a food that's been lost for years in the land of Anglund. Romance blossoms, but the two are separated when the girl is kidnapped for her magical abilities. Short chapters that alternate between Emmeline's and Owen's narrations keep the story moving at a fast clip. Selfors's elegant prose is well suited for depicting both the sweetness of chocolate and of first love. However, there's plenty here for nonromance fans: fights, near misses with death, and even political intrigue when Emmeline ends up at the court of the king and queen of Anglund. The multiple versions of how chocolate disappeared, each representing a different political spin, add nuance to the narrative. Both characters are strong, and Emmeline's transformation from drab pariah to beautiful, powerful young woman will provide vicarious thrills for readers. A scene where she declines a marriage proposal from the handsome but arrogant Griffin Boar, who scorned her back in their village, is a particularly satisfying moment. While Emmeline's predicament wraps up a little too quickly and conveniently, her reunion with Owen is fully gratifying.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journalα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Born to a poor Flatlands “dirt-scratcher” and possessing a misshapen foot, Emmeline Thistle has always been shunned by local villagers, although she finds comfort and connection with the area cows. When her widowed father is recruited by the king’s military, she is left alone. Then her village is swept away in a flood, causing her to nearly drown, until Owen Oak, a well-to-do dairyman’s son, comes to the rescue. While recuperating in upscale Wanderlands, Emmeline discovers her unique magical ability to churn cream into chocolate—a delicacy of legend throughout Anglund. Soon others—from a seedy peddler to a king and queen—seek to exploit her gift, and Emmeline must run. Meanwhile, Owen is determined to find her, and their experiences, both individually and together, change lives in diverse and unexpectedly rewarding ways. Emmeline and Owen are sympathetically and complexly drawn, and their densely detailed, alternating stories incorporate suspenseful, edgy, and lively and sweet moments. Despite some predictable story elements, Selfors (Mad Love, 2011) spins an immersing blend of fantasy and fairy tale likely to draw and engage genre fans. Grades 8-11. --Shelle Rosenfeld