Reviews for Secrets of the Crown


Booklist Reviews 2011 December #2
The Prophesied Three--cat Aldwyn, blue jay Skylar, and tree frog Gilbert--embark upon another bland but cozy heroic quest in this sequel. Paksahara, the treacherous rabbit familiar intent on overthrowing humans, has used the Shifting Fortress to take away human magic. Humanity's only hope is to send the familiars after the Crown of the Snow Leopard, with which they can reclaim the Fortress. It's a ridiculously contrived sequel, but there is an interesting revealed element: how humans stole rule of Vastia from animals in the first place. The familiars don't reflect upon this long enough to doubt that theirs is the rightful path, but readers might. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
In their second story, the three prophesied magical animals--cat Aldwyn, frog Gilbert, and blue jay Skylar--set out on a quest for the only artifact that can stop the evil familiar, Paksahara, from unleashing an animal-zombie uprising. The engaging story line features page-turning action and suspense punctuated by droll humor.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 July #2

This series' second installment is a spiritless conglomeration of fantasy tropes.

Human magic is kaput, so the three loyals (human children) stay home while "the Prophesized Three" familiars—Aldwyn, Skylar and Gilbert—take center stage, journeying to fulfill their destiny. Skylar's an illusion-casting blue jay, Gilbert a tree frog who occasionally sees visions in puddles, Aldwyn a telekinetic cat descended from a tribe "whose mental powers extended beyond that of mere telekinesis, to firestarting, mind control, and astral projection." Except for the fact that Skylar flies and Aldwyn walks on all fours, they barely show animal traits; it's easy to forget that these protagonists are animals at all. What's harder is to think of any fantasy motifs that don't appear. Danger is frequent but never actually dangerous (lose a finger? No worries, it'll regenerate a couple pages later). Protective magic is overly convenient, solutions are too easy and a supposed surprise turncoat is telegraphed all along by his name, which starts with the syllable "Mal." Even cartoon physics works here, sadly without irony or winks: An illusory bridge over a chasm "can even fool gravity and the laws of nature" as long as the familiars "don't question its existence." Frequent double-description makes the pace drag ("He felt drops of water running down his face. He was crying").

This dull string of clichés offers nothing to invest in. (Fantasy. 7-11) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 August

Gr 4-6--In this sequel to The Familiars (HarperCollins, 2010), the traitorous rabbit familiar Paksahara has gained control of the Shifting Fortress, enabling her to cast powerful spells; in her bid to overthrow humans, she has eliminated their ability to do magic. Animals retain their magical ability, so familiars Skylar the blue jay, Gilbert the tree frog, and Aldwyn the cat set off on a journey through strange and exotic lands to find the Crown of the Snow Leopard, which will allow them to locate the Shifting Fortress. The cliff-hanger ending ensures at least one more installment. The writing isn't the strength of this book--characters are painted broadly and tend to make pronouncements in pompous fantasy-speak. However, the familiars' adventures are exciting, and the revelations about Aldwyn's long-lost parents are touching. Fans of the first book will be pleased, and the story will also appeal to readers of animal fantasy series like Erin Hunter's "Warriors" (HarperCollins) and Kathryn Lasky's "The Guardians of Ga'hoole" (Scholastic)--Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

[Page 102]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2011 December
The second novel in the Familiars series finds the animal companions on a new quest. Paksahara, a gray hare and long-time familiar of Queen Loranella, turns traitor in a bid to seize power for his animal brethren. He casts a spell to prevent humans from performing magic, which wreaks havoc on the entire kingdom. Aldwyn the cat, Skylar the blue jay, and Gilbert the tree frog must find the Crown of the Snow Leopard, an ancient relic that can restore magical abilities to humans. Led by clues in a rhyme, the Prophesied Three journey into unknown lands. Besides battling giant bookworms, drooling echo beasts, and tongueless cave shamans, each familiar must grow in skill and bravery. Themes of friendship, belonging, and loyalty also underscore the tale The fast pace, magical twists, and light humor will entertain young readers. The animals' point of view is engaging, and the three companions charm readers with their banter. Occasional black-and-white illustrations help the story pop. The writing, however, is weaker and more predictable than other titles in the genre, which curtails the suspense. The protagonists face challenges that are mere bumps in the road, conveniently overcome with unseen assistance. The potential to create a unique and engrossing story remains unfulfilled. Besides the obvious appeal for fans of the first novel, this title will also draw in readers who feel daunted by Harry Potter and those just looking to sample the fantasy genre. A cliffhanger ending ensures there will be more adventures to come.--Deborah Cooper 3Q 3P M Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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