Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jane Johnson

The Secret Country
by Jane Johnson
Recommended Age: 10+

This first book in The Eidolon Chronicles introduces young Ben Arnold, a boy with one foot in a magical world -- or one eye, rather. It's the bright green eye that clashes with his other, brown one. It eventually turns out that his one green eye marks him as a prince in the Secret Country, where his mother is the rightful queen. But until he finds this out, Ben is just an ordinary boy who has his heart set on buying a Mongolian fighting fish. Things start to happen when he goes to the pet store to buy the fish, and a talking cat named Iggy cajoles Ben into buying him instead.

Iggy is a traveler from the Secret Country, one who walks the roads between worlds. But someone else is traveling the roads, carrying on a sinister traffic in magical creatures who cannot long survive separation from the magic of home. One such creature, a tiny fairy, falls into Ben's hands, propelling him and Iggy on a dangerous journey. Before it is over, boy and cat will face threats to their lives, their family, and their world.

This is a funny and often thrilling story, featuring many wonderful creatures - and some fairly nasty ones, too. It has prophecies, narrow escapes, low-brow henchmen, strange newspaper clippings, and a boy's struggle to write a letter to Mum and Dad so they won't worry while he is traveling out of this world to fight superhuman bad guys. The author's writing style has a few quirks and may take some getting used to, but the quirks come out in this story's favor as it succeeds in being different, diverting, and definitely the starting point of a fresh, new series.

UPDATE: This series has moved on without me! The next two books, at least, have come out. Their titles are The Shadow World and Dragon's Fire.

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