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Unseen magic
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Publishers Weekly Review
"The Tea shop tended to vanish" begins Lloyd-Jones's (The Bone Houses) middle grade debut, immediately immersing readers in the magic-infused town of Aldermere, Calif., situated at the edge of a redwood forest. In order to avoid releasing dangerous magic, the town's residents follow a number of rules: "Doors must be labeled or they can lead anywhere. Pay the ravens or keep your garbage bins inside. Never keep a knife that's tasted your blood." Eleven-year-old Finley Barnes has lived in Aldermere for three years, since her mother decided they should settle in her hometown after a life on the move. It's the first place Fin's felt at home, but she's still bothered by her crayon-scrawled list of "things that were to be avoided at all costs." For the price of one memory, though, Aldermere's tea shop will give her a brew that temporarily relieves her anxiety. But when she removes tea from the shop and brews it herself, Fin accidentally unleashes a monster made of the leaves who looks just like her. Could it be responsible for the string of incidents occurring in usually peaceful Aldermere? Offering suspense, reassurance, and magic in a deeply alluring setting, Lloyd-Jones shows how erasing bad memories doesn't make fear disappear through a presumed-white heroine's arc toward bravery. Ages 8--12. Agent: Sarah Landis, Sterling Lloyd Literistic. (Feb.)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5 Up--Eleven-year-old Fin, who is white, has been living in the town of Aldermere for three years. She and her mother have finally stopped moving all the time; she feels safe here and is finally considering Aldermere home. This magical town contains ravens who demand feeding or they will destroy your garbage, strange multi-legged creatures, rumors of a bigfoot lurking, and, most interestingly, the tea shop that vanishes when strangers try to get inside. In the tea shop, Fin has been secretly using magic to overcome her fears, and she has a long list of them. When Talia the shop owner is injured and away, Fin attempts to combat her latest fear and uses the magic on herself without Talia's guidance. The result is an eerie tea-constructed twin who wreaks havoc on Aldermere. Fin must overcome her fears, without magic, to save the town she has come to love. Lloyd-Jones has created a magical place in the Redwoods of Northern California. Aldermere, population 239, is rife with forests, rumored woodland creatures, eerie shadows, and a mossy dampness that invites enchantment. The story of Fin and her fears reaches far beyond the search for her self-created twin, although that, too, is entertaining. The book examines what it means to confront fear and how memory can interfere with growth and self-awareness. Fin's journey leads her through friendship, family, and the challenge of accepting who she was and who she can become. Fans of Harry Potter and magical creatures will not want to put this book down, and will want to revist Aldermere again and again. VERDICT An enchanting tale that will keep middle grade readers captivated and wanting more. A must-read for fans of magic worlds and fantastical creatures.--Carol Connor
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