Review: “Wintergarden” — Sequel to YA fantasy winner “Under A Fairy Moon”

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Wintergarden by T. M. Wallace. Brownridge publishing, December 2014, 220pp.

Wintergarden is the sequel to the award winning novel, Under the Fairy Moon, by T. M. Wallace.

Wintergarden is a story of coming of age set in a fantastic world of cross dimensional travel. It has elements of classic fantasy and modern science fiction. The target audience is young adult readers.

Wallace invites us into a journey of self-discovery for our protagonist, Addyson Marten. The tale begins at the end of a long cold winter. Spring though, seems a long way off, as Addy recovers from a lengthy illness. Addy comes to herself, but carries with her memories from her fever dreams that seem all too real.  There is a boy she knows from these dreams but has never met in the real world.

Next door to Addy lives Mrs. Tavish whose home is set in a marvelous garden. It is this garden that gives the book its title. A preternaturally vast space, it is home to a Labyrinth, the center of which is populated by large stone statues.

Wallace leads us gently into the garden, inviting us to experience magic and mystery. The opening third of the story features the interaction between Mrs. Tavish and Addy. There is a quiet desperation to the older woman who has full knowledge of what Addy experienced. The initial fear and suspicion that Addy holds is gradually replaced by trust and compassion. She convinces Addy to enter the garden and so begins Addy’s quest to find Connor, Mrs. Tavish’s kidnapped son, and bring him home.

This is a journey tale, both into the landscape of the garden and into Addyson’s exploration of who she truly is. The Labyrinth itself is the path of discovery as Addy encounters alternate realms, magical creatures, witches and her own fears and limitations. The description is painted on a broad canvas that unfolds as we go inward, following the spirals of both the Labyrinth and Addy’s soul.

The second part of the book switches to a different protagonist and is told from his perspective. Connor, who is the son of Mrs. Tavish, is introduced as the Prince of Labyrinths. This mystical creature seems to be both a human child and something else. The story here gets somewhat murky and esoteric and I was glad to get back to Addyson in the third part of the book where her quest to rescue him resumes.

As in all quest stories, the going gets tougher the closer Addy gets to her goal. We encounter all manner of malevolent creatures along the way, all set to thwart Addy. She is persistent and plucky and remains undaunted even in the presence of the evil Queen Uhtrace. Triumph comes with Addyson’s discovery of her true identity and she comes into her own.

I liked Addy and cheered her on. I can’t say the same for the other protagonist, Connor, who I found to be a rather pathetic creature. Some of the supporting cast were marvelous, particularly the pixie, Enitua, who brought humor and playfulness to the story. I would recommend this story for older teens who are struggling with questions of identity and belonging.

Review by

H. D. Moore

(Author of Broken Faith, Authorhouse publishing, 2013.)

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Starred Review: Broken Faith by H. D. Moore

REVIEW:

Broken Faith is an amazing story touches the soul and captures the heart. Not only does it deliver a plot packed with mystery and intrigue, but it celebrates what is good and pure and decent in people, something one frequently forgets when you watch the news or read sensationalist newspapers. It is a story of love, and healing and human kindness that counters most powerfully the evil that exists in the world.

The story begins with the main character, Foster, sitting alone in his farmhouse. His head is full of memories, and he still talks to his wife who has been dead for about a year: her kind spirit still somehow haunts the old farmhouse that Foster is left to run.

Then there is a freak snow-storm and a barrage of strangers soon enter onto the scene to pull Foster out of his silence: A young pregnant mother whose car has gone off the road and a young five-year-old boy and his father who have been in an accident. The little boy who is stranded at the farmstead with his father says, “What’s wrong with this place? I like it. The light is all soft and glowie like. It feels kind of magic.” And somehow, it is magical. This farm is a place where miracles happen, particularly the miracle of kindness.
Foster’s character is realistic and at the same time, something very special: He is that seemingly rare creature: a really good man. He really is a man who stands for all good men, fathers and grandfathers, husbands and brothers who would extend a hand to their fellow human beings in need never counting the cost. When the young pregnant girl, Mary, goes into labour, he hitches up a horse and donkey to an old cutter and manages to get her to a hospital on time. He also takes the cutter to pick up the doctor who can’t make it out in the snowstorm. When he meets Faith, a girl broken in body and soul having been kidnapped and abused by a vicious man, he agrees to take her into his farm-house like she is a part of his large family and nurse her back to health as if she were his own daughter.

Toward the middle of the book, the mystery surrounding Faith begins to deepen and there is a real sense of danger as the man who has kept her in captivity for eight years comes looking for her. Just as Faith is becoming a part of a real family for the first time in her life, the dangerous web of political and religious intrigue widens and the reader is compelled to read to the very last page to find out the meaning of Faith’s history … and of her future.

About the Author

H.D. Moore is a poet, actor, storyteller and raconteur and writer living in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Past-times include singing and playing guitar and he is an avid outdoorsman. He is an ordained minister. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, Emmanuel College, Victoria University.

An Interview with Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Author of the MG Historical Fiction: “WHEELS OF CHANGE:”

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Title of Book:  Wheels of Change

ISBN: 978-1-939547-13-2

 From the Book Jacket: Racial intolerance, social change, sweeping progress. It is a turbulent time growing up in 1908. For twelve year old EMILY SOPER, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic. Emily is more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer, than trying to conform to the proper expectations of females. Many prominent people own Papa’s carriages. He receives an order to make one for President Theodore Roosevelt. Papa’s livelihood becomes threatened by racist neighbors, and horsepower of a different sort. Emily is determined to save Papa’s business even if she has to go all the way to the President.


An Interview with Darlene Beck-Jacobson

If you had to describe your book in two sentences, what would they be?

Life altering changes are coming for Emily Soper and her family. How can Emily decide what changes are worth fighting for?

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your current work?

One of my favorite lines comes from chapter five (Emily’s thoughts): “When I’m feeling my meanest, I sometimes wish all the people who judged folks by their skin color were struck blind.  Then would it matter?”

What were five important things that you took into consideration while writing your story?

With WOC, which is historical, SETTING was very important. I had to make the past real by choosing the right details. I also had to “tweak” the language and dialogue to reflect the way people spoke in 1908. I wanted to include important issues and topics for classroom discussion. I wanted to make it fun for kids to learn what children did back then.  And, I wanted to make the characters likeable – people everyone could relate to.

Why should readers pick up your book?

To learn about a unique period in history before electricity, machinery and pop culture invaded our lives.  What did kids do for fun without TV, radio, computers, telephones, or electricity?  What did their parents do?

What genres do you prefer to read?   I love reading many genres, especially historical, mystery and contemporary.  Which do you enjoy writing in?  I write picture books and Middle Grade, but my voice seems best suited for the latter.  Whenever I attempt to “break out” into YA, I find it hard to write authentically. I guess I’m really a 12 year old at heart!

What five things would you have with you at all times if you had to be prepared to take a trip at the drop of a hat?

A notebook and pencils, a camera, water bottle, credit card, lipstick.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?   

I’d definitely want to be able to fly.  To be able to soar above the treetops and view the world from up high is an amazing feat.  In my next life, I want to come back as a bird. 

What footprint do you want to leave behind in this world?

One of kindness to others, caring for God’s creation (our world), and using my gifts to improve the world around me. I hope to leave my small corner of the world a bit better than I found it.


Thank you so much, Darlene for your insights!

Booksalmagundi gives this book 5 out of 5 stars! * * * * *

Booktalk

Here is a recipe for a novel, perhaps every novel. Certainly for my favourite novels:

  1. Always, always, the battle of good against evil with good triumphing over evil.
  2. The underdog winning against all odds.
  3. Love. Usually involving sacrifice. Overcoming fear.
  4. Power coming from a spiritual realm, from the Creator.
  5. Faith. Overcoming fear and connecting the protagonists to that ancient power.

Of course there will be a “bad guy,” someone to personify the evil that the main characters need to fight. Will he come from one of the clans? Or another world? Someone who has been a black sheep, chastised and ostracized for an abuse of power. He views himself as a misunderstood visionary, the clans are missing out on an opportunity for greatness. Perhaps he wishes to exploit the humans as an inferior race. Why should these lesser beings have control over the planet while the clans have to keep secret?