I stepped outside my usual bailiwick this week and read a middle-grade fantasy novel. In The Warble by Victoria Simcox, (I received a free copy for review purposes) young Kristina comes home from her last day of the school year with a gift from her teacher. It’s a non-descript silver ball, hardly worth the giftwrap.
But then it buzzes at night, waking Kristina up.
This little ball transports Kristina to the land of Bernovem, where she meets dwarves, fairies and chatty animals.
In Bernovem, she learns that her little silver ball, the Warble, is the prize item in the deadly-serious game of saving this land from the evil queen. It’s hard for Kristina to keep the Warble in her possession when so many schemers covet it for themselves.
Simcox’s book contains plenty of adventure to capture young readers’ attention. We’ve got children traveling through spooky forests, and no parents to protect them. We’ve got strange noises, looming prison walls, cliffs, darting arrows, poison fangs, and much much more.
I came down with a soft spot for Ugan, a dwarf with a lot on his conscience. He works for the queen, and she’s a door-slammer and foot-stomper. He dreams of how life used to be in the employ of a much kinder prince. Back then, he enjoyed an abundant supply of Fairy-Blossom Tea (the Halloween candy of Bernovem) and he got two days off a week. Now he’s stuck doing “deareat queen’s” dirty work.
Adult readers may find The Warble’s noblest heroes and wickedest villains a little flat. They may also detect a couple sections where the plot twists whiz through like flying plates. But they may get just as caught up as I did in the perils of Kristina’s quest. Will she deliver the Warble to its rightful place? Who among all the gnomes, crows and deposed princes can she trust?
Back here in America, I’ve got a healthy supply of my own Fairy-Blossoom Tea. When this Candy Bar Cookie Squares recipe called for three Snickers bars, I decided to dig through my stash and see what came up.
In the end, I was not willing to part with my Snickers minis. So I threw in the Nestle Crunch bars.