The Dragon Girl

A fairy tale that came to me when I was supposed to be writing something else… 

Once there were two dragons. They lived in a cave quite close to a village. This was lucky for them because they were both getting old and could no longer fly long distances to find food. Every now and then one of them would float down the mountain on the evening breeze and pick up a cow, or a sheep, or a villager for their supper.


An interview with author Debora Geary

Something a little different for my blog, an author interview.  Debora Geary, author of  “A Modern Witch” and “A Hidden Witch” was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
I’ve only read two of your books – “A Modern Witch” and “A Hidden Witch”.  In both of these I was struck by the importance of family and the bonds of friendship between the characters.  While some of them enjoy their personal space, in most cases they come to their rights when they are surrounded by friends and family. In fact, the strongest magic is created by several withes supporting one another’s skills. Why this emphasis on togetherness?

It’s where the books went.  I started off with three witches in three different parts of the world – doesn’t sound like a recipe for family and togetherness, does it?  But then, as I started to write Nell’s character, she needed a family.  So I gave her some kids, and a brother – and they rather insisted on taking over the story.  By book two, I knew what to expect, so Moira’s Nova Scotia clan wasn’t a surprise any more.
When I look back on the first two books, I can’t imagine them without that strong current of family and community.  But when I sat down to write A Modern Witch, I thought I was writing a book about witches and magic on the Internet.  The rest came from trying to learn a little more about the characters in my head.  It’s ironic – I’m actually quite a solitary person…
Quite a few of the characters are very young, and yet they play as important a role in the plot as the adult characters. In fact, the young witches are taken very seriously by the adults, and often given quite adult responsibilities. Does that reflect your own attitude?

A Modern Witch by Deborah Geary

It’s been a while since I’ve done any book reviews, but I’ve been inspired to start again by my experiences in reading ebooks. My husband and myself were lucky enough to get a Kindle each as a birthday present from my sister in law. Thanks Moira!

I’ve been reading quite a few books on my Kindle, and here is one I thoroughly enjoyed: A Modern Witch by Deborah Geary.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

It’s a fresh take on the classic fantasy trope of somebody coming unexpectedly into their magical power. But unlike many others, this is dealt with a light and humorous touch – no endless pages of adolescent guilt and denial!

What I particularly enjoyed is the solid and convincing way the magic itself is portrayed. This is an area that is often glossed over in other books. Magic, how it works, its effects on people and their relationships with one another is the focus of this story. At times I wondered if the author herself is a witch, it was all dealt with in such a knowledgeable, no nonsense and practical way. 🙂

This is not the usual plot about taking-down-evil-threat-to-the-world-with-predictable-cliffhanger-ending. It’s all about relationships and people getting to know themselves and one another. I also appreciated the many strong female characters. This book certainly passes the Bechdel test!

Avatar’s End

(many spoilers in this post, if you haven’t seen Avatar yet)

Sometimes  a story just goes wrong.  The author sets it all up just right – and then somehow the whole thing falls apart.  That’s how I feel about James Cameron’s Avatar.  Its a stunning movie.  The richly detailed landscapes and lovely Aliens draw one deeply inside the world of Pandora.  And apart from the glorious visuals, there is a tragic heart to the story that makes you want to watch it to the end, even though you know that it cannot end well.

I’m struggling to articulate why one would feel drawn to tragedy.  Is it simply the affirmation of facing your fear? Maybe that is why I felt so let down by the way that Avatar plays out.  Instead of facing up to the inevitable tragedy of its story line, we get a day dream fairy tale ending.

I felt the same about WALL-E .  That was a truly dark story.  More

The Hunting of the Last Dragon by Sherryl Jordan

The plot in Short: It’s Britain in the 14th century. The last of the dragons was killed almost a generation ago.  So how could an entire village be burnt to the ground, all its occupants killed in a night?  Young Jude survives, homeless, friendless and terrified.
He meets  tiny, fierce Jing-wei, crippled by her bound feet and trapped in the life of the freak in a travelling show.  Jude is torn by guilt and fear, but Jing-Wei is more than willing to  force him to turn and face his past,  to hunt the last dragon.


(image from tripreportwww2008)

What I thought: This is a wonderful book.  I’m a sucker for dragon books as it is, and this one is lovely.

Its a real story teller’s book.  More

Talon by Janet Lee Carey

Title: Talon
Author: Janet Lee Carey
Series : no, its a stand alone

In Short: Princess Rosalind is the  heir to Wilde Island. It is 12th century. In nearby England, Empress Maud and King Stephen are fighting the long civil war.  The war that Princess Rosie will end, or so everyone believes.  Six hundred years ago Merlin made prophecy that the twenty first Queen of Wilde Island would “end the war with a wave of her hand.”  But pretty Princess Rosie has a secret.   Under her golden gloves she hides a “beast mark” – a fingers shaped like a lizards talon, tipped with a curving claw.


What I thought: It took me a little while to get get into the rhythm of this book.  I was prejudiced by the cover, for some reason.  Its a very pretty cover, but it made me expect a humourless and overly florid romance.  I was wrong. This is probably one of the most down to earth descriptions of Medieval life I’ve read, even to the fleas in Rosie’s hair.

But the best thing about this book is hinted at by its cover.  More

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Title: Mortal Engines
Author: Philip Reeve
Series : First is a series of “The Hungry Cities Quartet”.  Next is Predator’s Gold


In Short:
In a post apocalyptic world, humans have turned their cities into “traction cities” – huge mobile city sized machines.  These monstrous city-machines move around the deserts that used to be oceans, scavenging one another. Cities eat towns, towns eat villages.  This all seems right and proper to Tom, the apprentice Historian who lives in Traction London.  But one day Tom saves his hero the chief archaeologist Valentine from an assassination attempt – and sets of a series of events that forces him to question everything he believes in.


What I thought: Mortal Engines is a rattling good adventure book.  It contains all the elements of the standard “boys own” story, but just when you are lulled into a seemingly familiar pattern, the story punches the air out of your lungs. More

Alchemy by Margaret Mahy

Title: Alchemy
Author: Margaret Mahy
Series : No, this is a stand alone book


In Short:
Roland is on top of his world. Roland is barely hanging on. He hangs out with the in-crowd. His sleep is haunted by dreams, and by day he hears voices. He is in control.  He is being blackmailed. His girlfriend is Chris – the most popular, sexiest girl in the school. But he cannot get loner girl Jess Ferret out of his thoughts.


What I thought. Margaret Mahy can do no wrong.   Most of her books that I have read are about teenagers, and the psychic energies let loose as they change from self-absorbed children to self-aware adults.  It is never clear what is reality and what is fantasy – and in fact, there is no difference.  Magic is not strange, just a natural extension of the general weirdness of life.  She has her own take on Magic Realism. More

The Weathermonger – Peter Dickinson

Title: The Weathermonger
Author: Peter Dickinson
Series : First of the three “The Changes” – but they can be read as stand alone books as well.


In Short: Five years ago, a mysterious change took place in Britain.  Thousands fled the country, and those left behind reverted to a medieval way of life.  Machines are hated and feared.  Anyone associated with modern technology is stoned as a witch.  So far, all missions sent by the outside world, have failed to find the cause of the phenomenon.  Pilots forget how fly, or are struck by lightning.  Soldiers turn upon one another.  And  now, two children – Geoffrey and Sally -are travelling to the heart of “The Changes” on the Welsh border to discover and if possible destroy it’s cause.


What I thought:
The Weathermonger is another favourite book from my childhood.  I first read it when I was about 10 years old and I found it frightening but fascinating. I still do.  Geoffrey and Sally are both very young and have been orphaned by the Changes.  They live in a world where magic is real.  Geoffrey is the village Weathermonger;  he can make it rain,  change the wind, or call up a mist.  This is a dangerous skill in a world where witches are stoned, drowned or burnt to death. More

Across the Wall by Garth Nix

Title: Across the Wall
Author: Garth Nix
Series : No, this is a stand alone book


In Short: A collection of short stories from different parts of his career. Garth Nix wrote an introduction to each story.


What I thought: More

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate di Camillo

Title: The Tale of Despereaux
Author: Kate di Camillo
Series : No, this is a stand alone book


In Short:
This is the story of Chiaroscuro the rat who longs for light, Midge the deaf servant girl who desperately wants to be a princess, and Despereaux the tiny mouse who believes in fairy tales, honour and happy endings.  All of them are drawn, by love or hate to royal daughter,  Princess Pea.


What I thought:

The Tale of Despereaux is much darker than I expected.  More

The Little Country by Charles de Lint

Title: The Little Country
Author: Charles de Lint
Series : No, this is a stand alone book

In Short:
A fantasy rooted in folk and fairy tales.  Janey Little, a Cornish folk musician, finds an unknown manuscript by a famous fantasy author.  She starts reading it, and so doing sets in motion an uncanny chain of events that puts herself and everyone she loves in danger.


In Full: The Little Country is my third book by Charles de Lint.  Although its not my favourite (that still has to be Moonheart) I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I found themes of redemption and forgiveness,  about the core of innocent hurt in the heart of even the most evil person. More

Patterns from Stories

I have a secret vice… I like making repeating patterns out of images.  This time around I was inspired by my previous post,  illustrations by John Howe.


I have linked each pattern to the image they were generated from.  Click on a pattern to see the original image. More

John Howe’s World: Strange and Familiar

Sometimes I find an illustrator who captures on paper what I imagine as I read.  This is especially  rare for old favourites like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that have been growing in my imagination since childhood.  But when I look at the drawings and paintings by John Howe, I recognise people and places I have known all my life.


I’ve been enjoying myself digging through his unusually thorough and entertaining site. and am sharing some of my favourites here.  More

Day Dream Homes

When I was a child, one of my favourite day dreams was building my own home.  It was usually underground, inside a tree or under water, and often featured wall-sized fish tanks.  I’ve gathered together a number of fictional homes and rooms that inspired my day-dreams then and now.


First off – the familiar classics, starting with Bilbo Baggins’s own Bag End: More

Previous Older Entries