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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 06/2020
  • 978-1-64388-321-2 B088JZLYQW
  • 408 pages
  • $14.99
For Arty to miss a day of school, either he is very, very sick or a fairytale-character turf-war has begun in his backyard — such as what begins this particular Wednesday. First, he finds an axe-swinging, bearded, sweaty warrior Dwarf scaring his dogs. Soon enough, Emma, Cry and other middle-school friends also find fairy creatures — Elves, Spriggans, Pixies, and a hoped-for dragon — crashing into their normal homework-doing, backpack-carrying, phone-charging schooldays. Why are these magical beings here? What should be done? Is that axe sharp? Can Pixies be given aspirin? Arty with his friends — and spying jerks, and questionable strangers with long names — follow the clues and try to find out, even as things turn dark and dangerous. The mythical beings are taking sides. The Gwyllion, that legendary Old Woman of the Mountains, has a sinister plan, turning the neighborhood into a fantasy battleground. One that awaits young heroes.
Reviews
This middle grade contemporary fantasy debut, set in present-day Long Island, balances a sleuthing aesthetic, conflict between its preteen protagonists, and an exploration of Irish folklore and language. When an armed dwarf (of the fantasy variety) appears in Arty’s backyard, the anxious boy overcomes communication barriers to befriend him. Arty confides in some friends who soon meet their own magical companions. Action-driven Emma steals a magical map, and she and Arty ditch school to discover the reason these creatures have appeared: a brewing battle between the fairies and the Old Woman of the Mountain.

Unfortunately, Marplot’s fairy world’s simplistic good-and-evil turf war ultimately turns the story’s protagonists into pawns. Arty and Emma feel a bit sidelined in their own adventure; Emma loses her will under the mind magic of the evil Gwyllion, and all the characters follow the clues and puzzles created by the ancestors of a deus-ex-machina mentor who appears near the end of the book. Emma and Arty never quite get a chance to own their victory. As the magic fades away from the story, so too does its sense of wonder.

The magical creatures have an unearthly but relatable appeal, and their method of communicating with the kids by sharing images seen through their eyes offers a creative glimpse into fairyland. The alternating perspectives between Arty and Emma are well-balanced and give a wider view of the action, but short chapters narrated by minor characters, many of whom quibble about their representation, diffuse the immersive sense of adventure and pad out a book that already stretches out a little too long. Marplot plays well to young readers whose sense of adventure is balanced by their desire to learn, grounding his playfulness and whimsy with an excellent knowledge of folklore.

Takeaway: Middle grade readers looking for a fantasy grounded in Irish folklore will enjoy the detailed puzzles and, dynamic friendships in Marplot’s debut.

Great for fans of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, Jeremiah Curtin’s Irish Tales of the Fairies and the Ghost World.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 06/2020
  • 978-1-64388-321-2 B088JZLYQW
  • 408 pages
  • $14.99

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