When the witch Baba Yaga walks her house into the backyard, eleven-year-old Summer enters into a bargain for her heart’s desire. Her search will take her to the strange, surreal world of Orcus, where birds talk, women change their shape, and frogs sometimes grow on trees. But underneath the whimsy of Orcus lies a persistent darkness, and Summer finds herself hunted by the monstrous Houndbreaker, who serves the distant, mysterious Queen-in-Chains…
“It’s Wes Craven meets L. Frank Baum, or Narnia for those of us who thought Narnia smiled without showing enough of its teeth.” ~KB Spangler, Digital Divide
Customer ReviewsSee All
Another engaging adventure in a Kingfisher-flavored mythos
I’m coming to the conclusion that when at all possible I should read episodically-written stories in the fashion intended rather than consuming them as if a continuous novel. I loved this portal fantasy of an over-protected girl granted her heart’s desire: to go on adventures. And what adventures! A quest with a mystery and an over-arching peril that turns out to be very different from what all the story tropes set you up to believe. But the reading felt a bit jerky, as each chapter resolves to a stopping point, sometimes in an artificial-feeling way. That’s my only complaint, though. The world building is superb and the supporting characters are well-realized in quirky and inimitably Kingfisher fashion. Like much of Kingfisher’s fiction, the setting conjures a complete mythos that borrows from existing mythology but has an integrated reality of its own. I’d call the book “YA-friendly” in the sense that the protagonist is young, it has coming-of-age themes, and the perils and experiences are ones that will feel both real and manageable for teenage readers, but it probably won’t feel “too young” for adult readers.
Children's story for adults, in the best way
I wouldn't call this a children's story, but it's similar. Maybe it's the sort of story I might have appreciated as a child, had I been an altogether better and more worthwhile child. In any case, I enjoyed it quite a bit and can't recommend it highly enough.
It's quite good
The author brings to life a quirky yet vividly realized world and sets her protagonist forth to explore and elucidate for us. This she does with charm and grace, making for a wonderful tale, as well as a fine comeuppance to all of those anodyne Narnia tales.