________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 18 . . . . January 15, 2016


Lady Oak Abroad. (The Audrey O'Krane Chronicles, Book 1).

Glenda Goertzen.
Prince Albert, SK: Hazeldell Productions, 2015.
253 pp., trade pbk. & ebook, $13.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-0-9879232-2-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-9879232-1-9 (ebook).

Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.

Review by Libby McKeever.

** /4



I scrambled out of bed, threw on my bathrobe, and hurried to the front door. Fog had fallen over the city, wrapping the house in a pale cloud.

"Aunt Ellen?" No reply from the dark quinzhee. I ran down the steps. As I approached it, the quinzhee suddenly came alight again. I knelt and squinted into the entrance. I saw a swirl of colour that crackled around the edges like storm clouds. I eased slowly through the short tunnel until I reached the heart of the quinzhee. On hands and knees, I stared up at a ring of light that rippled and blazed and finally parted to create a ragged opening.

The voices united in one frantic cry: Where is my aunt?

Probably she was in the sunny forest in the others side of the opening. The summery perfume of exotic wildflowers wafted into the cool air of the quinzhee – there I go again with poetry. To tell the truth, I didn't stop long enough to sniff the wafting of foreign scents. Before the doorway could disappear, I closed my eyes and dived into it.

Audrey O'Krane used to get into lots of trouble at school, but now in her senior year, she is getting good grades and hasn't been in the principal's office in months. Which was why she was stunned when she was suddenly expelled. For Audrey, this event parallelled the current issues in a world where the World Trade Centre is attacked by terrorists, the hunt is on for Osama bin Laden, and poverty and corruption are rife. It was a world she didn't want to be a part of and to make matters worse, the day she was expelled was her birthday.

      After her guardian, Aunt Ellen, goes missing, Audrey investigates the quinzhee where her aunt was last seen. The quinzhee or snow house is styled in the Dene people's tradition, and when Audrey enters the cavern, she inadvertently opens a portal (or porthole as they are known) to another world. In this world of Migrara, Audrey learns that, because she was born on the winter solstice, she is a powerful worldhopper, and these powers are much sought after. She also discovers there are people who want to extort her powers, but not always to do good. In a frantic search for her aunt, two unlikely characters help Audrey, a werecat who is Captain of the queen's guards, and Keirt, a young mage with a mysterious past.

      With references to characters and events from Canadian history, The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and the British Royal family, this story is a melange of offbeat fantasy, silly fun and suggestions of the improbable. The tone of the writing in Lady Oak Abroad is quirky and sassy, which perfectly suits Audrey's personality. She is loyal, argumentative, brave and also very inquisitive of her burgeoning sexual feelings, which thankfully are harnessed by the loudest of her inner voices, Impulse Control. In moments of crisis, these inner voices govern her actions, and Goertzen uses this writing element to alert the reader to the mixture of feelings that bombard Audrey's thoughts as she tries to make sense of this new world and discover her true destiny. Readers who enjoy fantastic beasts, world hopping and a good mystery will happily tag along on Audrey's outrageous adventure.

      Lady Oak Abroad is the first book in "The Audrey O'Krane Chronicles". Goertzen's other books include Prairie Dogs, City Dogs, and Miracle Dogs.


Libby McKeever is the Youth Services Librarian at the Whistler Public Library in Whistler, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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