Book Reviews

El círculo del fuego blanco by Lara Ríos

El círculo del fuego blancoENGLISH BELOW

Rating: 🍁

Este libro falla en su intento de emular el género de fantasía juvenil, lo cual es triste porque no hay tantos buenos ejemplos de él en Español como los hay en Inglés (y desearía que los hubieran).

Simplemente, este libro es aburrido. La mayoría de la historia es gastada en exposición, con muy pocos eventos o sucesos. La protagonista no tiene iniciativa, ella no hace nada a través de su coraje, o sabiduría o cualquier otra habilidad o atributo memorable, y simplemente sigue las instrucciones que recibe de parte de otros personajes que no tienen porqué no haber resuelto el problema ellos mismos. Se sintió como si dos tercios del libro fueron gastados dándole instrucciones sólo para que ella pudiera completarlas en unas cuantas páginas, y ya, con eso el libro termina. 

También se detienen así como de la nada para rezarle a Dios… ¿para que los ayude a resolver el problema que ya de por sí van a resolver? No sé, yo crecí en el mismo país católico que esta autora y me imagino que lo incluyó como una costumbre común, pero dentro del contexto del libro se sintió fuera de lugar ya que no le agrega nada a la historia, y la historia sería igual si el rezo no estuviera ahí. 

También es súper evidente como la autora fue influenciada por A Wrinkle in Time de Madeleine L’Engle, al punto de que uno podría alegar (y me duele decirlo) que hubo plagio. Hay tres personajes ancianos y místicos conocidos como: el Señorpresente, el Señorfuturo, y el Señorpasado. Me parece demasiada la coincidencia, además considerando que el libro trata sobre una niña que viaja a otro mundo para salvar a un familiar. 

No le recomendaría este libro a nadie. 

——— 

This book fails in its attempt to emulate the middle grade fantasy genre; which is unfortunate because there aren’t as many great examples of it in Spanish as there are in English (and I wish there were more). 

It is just plain boring. Most of the book is spent on exposition, with few events actually happening. The protagonist has no initiative, she doesn’t DO anything out of her own bravery, wisdom or any other memorable skill or attribute, and she simply follows the instructions that she is given by other characters who have no reason to not have solved the problem themselves. It felt like two thirds of the book were spent on giving her instructions just so she could complete them within the span of a couple of pages and then the book was over.

They also randomly stop and pray for God to help them solve the problem that she is already going to solve anyway? I don’t know, I grew in the same Catholic country as this author and I can see how she probably included it as a commonplace thing, but it just felt random and out of place to me since it didn’t add anything to the story and the story wouldn’t change if you took it away. 

It’s also too evident how the author was influenced by A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, to the point that one could say (and it hurts me to do so) that there is plagiarism. There’s three mystical, old characters known as: Misterpast, Misterfuture and Misterpresent. It seems like too much of a coincidence when you pair it with a young girl who travels to another world to save a family member.

I would not recommend this book to anyone. 

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Book Reviews

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, illustrated by Katie Harnett

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, also Freymann-Weyr (Goodreads Author), Katie Harnett (Goodreads Author) (Illustrations)Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

This is… a sad little book.

But it isn’t so much sad as in depressing, but sad as in: life is hard and it doesn’t always go the way we’d expect it to, we can’t have everything we want, and there’s sacrifices we have to make, whether we like it or not.

However, this book is written in tender, warm and fuzzy language that’ll make you feel like a child again, and that’s what I loved the most about it. It just feels whole-hearted all the way around. (By the way, if this were an objective review I’d give this 3 stars instead of 4.)

It’s hard to say much about the plot without spoiling half the story, but just know that it includes: magic that is hidden in plain sight, enchanted cats (one of which is named TATIANA!!!), an evil sorcerer, dragons with eyes and scales that come in every color, a bourgeois little girl with the warm-heartedness of a thousand suns, and enough kind souls to restore your faith in humanity.

Every chapter is headed by a full page illustration in black and white ink. The illustrations have that loose handmade folksy style that is so trendy nowadays.

The ending is… Not what you’d expect. The ending is the kind of thing I would have been super upset about as a child, so therefore, it would have been a great book to read in a class setting with guiding questions. There’s a LOT to discuss here, and I can see children having very strong opinions about this book for days.

I would recommend this to: young pensive children, and to adults who want to feel cozy before bedtime but also question themselves about the magics they may ignore on the daily.

Book Reviews

The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, Brandon Dorman (illustrator)

The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (Goodreads Author), Brandon DormanRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven is a classic take on the genre of fantasy bestiaries, complete with toned pages to resemble old paper and tons of beautiful, full-color art.

The guide also includes scattered handwritten notes by the main characters from the Sorenson family. The notes were on character, with Kendra and Seth’s adding humor and Patton and Grandpa Sorenson’s notes adding depth. (Seth’s input was irritating, as usual.)

Even if you haven’t read Fablehaven, the book is fun to casually browse if only for the art. However, if you haven’t read the Fablehaven series and would like to avoid spoilers, DO NOT read the characters’ notes! Besides that, there are still some light spoilers regarding the locations of the magical preserves, and the existence of some creatures that appear in later books.

In short, it didn’t add anything I hadn’t seen before in this type of art book, but it didn’t disappoint either.

p.s. The map at the end is grossly incorrect about the location of Tibet.

Book Reviews

The Golden Specific (The Mapmakers Trilogy #2) by S.E. Grove

The Golden Specific (The Mapmakers Trilogy #2) by S.E. Grove

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

The Golden Specific is not as fast-paced as its prequel because the mission was not as urgent this time around. Everything is very mysterious, so Sophia and Theo are just kind of nudging things around, trying to figure it out.

The chapters are divided between Sophia and Theo’s respective adventures and I often would have rather known what Sophia was doing instead. (They show you such a tempting little map at the start of the book and I want to know what’s happening at the other end of the world!) But Theo’s side is also important, I’m guessing because it sets the stage for the next book?

Something I didn’t mention in my review of the first book is how I wholeheartedly appreciate the great empathy that the author has towards immigrants. The greatest villain in this book is a xenophobic, manipulative hypocrite who has never known empathy in his life. So it is heartwarming to see these children accomplish their goals for a better world with the combined efforts of a diverse cast of characters from all walks of life.