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Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen Kindle Edition
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|Length: 276 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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|Age Level: 9 - 18|
|Grade Level: 4 - 12|
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Overall I thought this story was awesome! The characters in the book were great and you really got to know them. Libby is a great main character. She is smart and loyal. I did find that the beginning of the book was a little confusing (there were things that were explained later in the book, maybe because I am a kid, I found it a little confusing). I like the adventure and the fact it wasn't too scary or violent. I really like how Libby kept finding more and more about her family and who she really was. I think boys and girls will like the book. It is a very fun story and I hope that this turns into a series because this is a really great book and I know that it could stop at one book, but I would like to learn more about what happens next with Libby!
All is well until a yellow envelope containing a mysterious letter is dropped at the Frye’s doorstep by a large raven. Libby does not know the contents of the letter, but a chain of events has now been set in motion. The Fryes travel to Germany to visit Libby’s grandmother who appears to have ulterior motives for luring the family to their homeland. Soon enough, her parents disappear and an evil woman (and her most unusual “henchmen”) kidnap Libby and reveal the secret that Libby’s parents have been hiding from her. She is “witch” nobility; that is, a descendent of the most powerful coven of witches – the coven of Hessen – and her aunt wants to have her powers.
It is up to the most unlikely of heroes, Uncle Frank, the disabled inventor; Sal, Uncle Frank’s old air force buddy; Ginny, Libby’s new and loyal friend; and Buttercup, Libby’s brave pet goose to save her before it’s too late.
Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen is a rollicking adventure spanning two continents and featuring the impressive title character who begins as an ordinary 10-year-old and who transforms into a confident girl who embraces her new identity as a powerful witch. But the best part of the story is the collection of quirky characters beginning with Uncle Frank who, despite being in a wheelchair, plays a critical role in protecting Libby. His old air force buddy, Sal makes a splash as he enters the story – literally flying in and landing wearing his hospital gown as he escapes from a care facility. Ginny is Libby’s best friend and she demonstrates her loyalty through her willingness to fly across the ocean, brave the elements, and face some heinous villains. And then there’s Buttercup, the goose. Let’s just say that this special pet also plays an important role in the story.
And those are just the good guys. Then, there are all the villains, reminiscent of the ones found in the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. There is the evil grandmother who lures Libby’s family to Germany in order for the even greater villain, Zelna (who has a surprise relationship with the group) to put her dastardly plan into action. Zelna reminds me of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty or the evil queen from Snow White or the evil stepmother from Cinderella (*ahem* all Brothers Grimm stories!) She is one nasty villain!
The plotline itself weaves a mystery about who Liberty Frye really is; why her parents escaped Germany and moved to America; what secret the vintage Brothers Grimm book holds; and what the evil Zelna is really after. There are so many plot twists and turns that I could only guess at the final outcome. That being said, there were certain parts of the story that I felt were quite complex for younger tweens to follow so I would recommend the book to older tweens. I did love the comic relief peppered throughout the text because there are definitely some dark moments as well.
I wanted to make mention of two things concerning issues I had with the book. First, there are some gruesome parts (not many, but a few). For example, Libby learns that Zelna stays young by eating children. Ok, that is very Grimm-like. The way she discovers it is by finding the disembodied head of a boy in a cauldron. Yeesh! I did not want that image in my head (and I’ve read the original Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales – apparently before I had children).
Second, I wish there had been more foreshadowing of Libby’s powers earlier in the story. Once Libby discovers she is a witch, she begins to reflect back on unusual things that had happened in the past (e.g., a Bunsen burner turning off by itself) that she can now attribute to her powers. It felt temporally out of order to have these “unusual incidents” revealed for the first time as flashbacks. I’m not even sure that the flashbacks are necessary in the story, but perhaps young readers would appreciate examples of how Libby demonstrated her powers.
My Bottom Line:
Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen is filled with magic, adventure, and quirky characters. We have the brave title character, Libby, whose parents have been protecting her from the truth; Libby’s friends and family who loyally stand by her; and a collection of nasty villains seeking to claim her powers. This book is strong on character development and rich in story with a plot filled with delicious twists and turns. Because of the complexity of the plot and the inclusion of some gruesome parts, I recommend this book to older tweens and teens aged 10 years and older.
What I liked: I generally enjoyed this book. It was a bit confusing in places, but I think it was just because I was reading too fast. There was nothing that I believe should deter middle-graders from reading this. Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen is a solid read with an interesting storyline and a fun plot. I’ll be adding it to my children’s TBR list ;) .
What I didn’t like: The book’s intro features a drunk neighbor and I almost put the book down thinking this had been improperly categorized, however, luckily I read a few more pages and found that my first impression was terribly inaccurate!
Author: J.L. McCreedy
Source: Free Read Dec 19, 2012
Setting: Mississippi & Germany