CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 21 . . . .June 24, 2005
The Warding of Willowmere begins where the previous "Willowmere Chronicle," The Witches of Willowmere had left off. Claire Norton is alone in the Willowmere mansion after being attacked by ferocious wolf-dogs and their masters, the warlock-shamans led by Klaus van Buren and his nephew, Nick, along with her classmate and nemesis, Josie.
In the first Chronicle, Claire discovers that she is a revenant, or reincarnation, and once lived in the 17th century as noblewoman Alice Ramsay, condemned to death for witchcraft. She continues to learn more about her past through her strange memories, and she discovers that she also lived as Flower-in-a-Drought in Africa, 100,000 B.C. Claire further develops her relationship with Leo, a familiar or daimon (a spirit guide in an animal's body) who has guided and protected her throughout the ages, appearing in many different forms. With his guidance, Claire develops the ability to explore alternate dimensions, adding an interesting element to this story.
The owner of the Willowmere estate is Myra Moore who has become a friend and surrogate mother to Claire as her own mother has left her and her father under mysterious circumstances. For most of the story, Myra is away on business and has entrusted Claire to look after Willowmere. However, her eventual re-appearance and involvement shows that her role in Claire's life is of no small coincidence, and the connection between the two is quite interesting.
Baird weaves a good fantasy story with a strong female protagonist. Claire is a strongly independent girl with a real sense of duty and purpose to her life. Baird further develops the basis she formed in the first book in this series of good versus evil, and, while she neatly ties up the main story-line, she has left a few things that cleverly beg resolution in the next installment of the series. By addressing the happenings of a normal teenage girl who faces everyday issues such as bullying, a school crush, and living a single-parent family, Claire is someone whom the reader can identify with even though the majority of the story is fantasy.
Because the story opens in Africa 100,000 B.C., then shifts to the present day and also mentions 17th Century England, I was quickly confused. I would, therefore, strongly recommend reading Witches of Willowmere prior to The Warding of Willowmere. This is one such case where the sequel does not work as well as a stand-alone book. The wicca and magick subjects are appealing topics for teens and nicely tie in to Harry Potter fiction as well as the Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer television shows.
Saache Heinrich is a librarian for the Saskatoon Public Library in Saskatoon, SK.
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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.