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The Key & the Flame Paperback – June 23, 2015
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The author does a great job of including subtle adult themes within a children's book. Like a good cartoon, there are obvious things for kids and some subtle things for adults so everyone enjoys it.
I can't wait for the next book in the series!
This story takes us on an adventure like few others. A young girl, and inadvertently her brother and a friend, travel through a tree in the forest and end up in a place that is strange and familiar all at the same time. And what of the mysterious key and how she came to possess it? How did Mr. Galloway know that she would be the best one to wield it's magic?
The world building in this story is well thought out, and the scenarios are exciting and interesting enough to keep the reader interested. But at the same time, there are a lot of unanswered questions that are raised in the story itself. How did Mr. Galloway come to choose to give Holly the key? How exactly did it come to pass that all of the Exiles and the like knew that Holly really was of the world that they knew and could do the things they wanted her to do? And what happens after the story? Will there be more in the story from this author? Will our questions ever be answered?
Usually this would be the point in the review where I would comment on the mechanical portion of the writing, but as I received an eARC of the book, I try to stay away from commenting on the editing and the like as it was not a finished copy and may not have been edited yet. The writer does show promise, though, and I look forward to more of the same in the future.