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Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

With Its Own Personality, Second 13 Book Even More Entertaining Than First

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for 13 Curses, it may inadvertently spoil plot surprises from its predecessor, 13 Treasures.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Rowan "Red" Fox has already lost her parents to a car accident.  She's not going to lose her baby brother, too.  But James hasn't simply wandered off, he's been abducted by fairies.  The creatures have taken the baby to their world—a magical realm where older humans are not welcome.  To get her brother back, Red will have to bargain with the fairies, who are not exactly known for their integrity.  They do, however, enjoy games, which is why the Fairy King gives Red a puzzle to solve.  Her prize for completing it successfully?  James.

Red's task is to find thirteen silver charms, special decorations that belong on an old charm bracelet owned by Red's friend, Tanya.  The charms represent important fairy treasures:  the Platter, the Cauldron, the Sword, the Heart, the Key, the Goblet, the Cup, the Staff, the Light, the Book of Knowledge, the Dagger, the mask of Glamour and the Halter.  As if locating tiny pieces of jewelry isn't hard enough, Red discovers that each charm has been enchanted to have a sinister affect on whoever possesses it.  If Red and her friends, Tanya and Fabian, can't gather the charms in time, everyone they know could be cursed.  And James will be lost to the human world forever.

While I enjoyed 13 Treasures, the first book in Michelle Harrison's middle grade fantasy series, I really liked the second, 13 Curses.  Why?  Because it combines the rich, compelling storytelling that made the first book intriguing with a clever treasure hunt that makes this second installment unique, while keeping it interesting.  The kids collect the charms a little too easily, sure, but I still enjoyed following along on their magical journey.  Since Harrison gave 13 Curses its own, distinct personality, I'm especially interested to see what she does with the next volume.  Michelle Harrison is one of those authors I'm definitely going to be keeping my eye on.         

(Readalikes:  13 Treasures and 13 Wishes by Michelle Harrison; also the series reminds me a little of the Fablehaven books by Brandon Mull)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for intense situations and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed 13 Curses from the library at my kids' elementary school and read it as part of my volunteer work for the same.        

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