February 2012, Puffin, 448 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Themes: lots of friends and enemies made, making mistakes, revenge, patience, trust, unexpected happenings,
Content: some moderate violence, major peril, humour,
Summary from Puffin
'I've just had a flesh-eating giant tearing around my house and now I'm in this strange land I don't know anything about!'
CHARLIE KEEPER has been forced from her home by a bloodthirsty and terrifying stranger.
But in escaping she discovers her house holds the gateway to the REALM OF BELLANIA - a place of myth, magic . . . and an evil Lord with a very bad attitude.
NOW its fate rests squarely upon Charlie's shoulders. But before she can untangle the mystery that will save Bellania, she needs the answer to a life-changing secret her guardian, the dastardly Mr Crow, has been keeping from her . . . Just who is Charlie Keeper?
Please don't be put off by the cover-I ignored it because the premise is cool. Charlie is a fun heroine. She just wants her parents back, but, as she slowly makes friends and not on purpose makes many supremely evil enemies her priority shifts a little to extend to keeping her friends safe. This is hugely important when she encounters a scarily evil and cruel weapon that is used against her. My heart was torn with what she was forced to do. Her friends are so kind, and give their all to helping Charlie.
This is a trilogy so the end isn't all honey and light, but there is some hope. That kept me through the darker parts of the book. I sometimes struggled with the enemies because they are so horrid, and the detailed illustrations emphasise their wickedness.I seriously hated the Shades, because of what they are like - for newcomers to this blog I hate anything that wiggles. That was why I took so long to read this book- I had to have long breaks between reading sessions.
It's also why this book doesn't get a perfect grade-there is nothing wrong with it per se, it's just at this point in time I'm more interested in happier reads. There is a decent amount of humour scattered about the book, either in dialogue or what happens to characters, which balances out the darker, grittier parts of what is an enjoyable read. Onwards with book 2!
For another spunky girl who is in a lighter in content read check out Magic Marks The Spot by Caroline Carlson (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)