CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 4 . . . .October 14, 2005
Our heroine, Claire Norton, is a seemingly regular teenage girl with an extraordinary history and gift. She combines forces with others to conquer the evil that has followed her through her two past lives and the current one. The third and final installment of the "Willowmere Chronicles" begins ominously with a meeting between three men, all of whom readers have been previously introduced to in earlier books. Nicholas van Buren is addressing his uncle, crippled from a recent stroke as well as Mr. Thorpe, a board member from Van Buren Enterprises. As the story unfolds, the reader is privy to what Van Buren Enterprises does and how this fits with the grander scheme of evil in the "Chronicles of Willowmere." Baird nicely reminds the previous readers of this fantasy reality with witches, shamans and familiars (spirits that accompany witches and shamans), while giving a good introduction to the series premise to anyone new to this series. Along with Leo (Claire's familiar), Myra Moore and several new friends, Claire takes on the evil forces of the Legionaires led by Probetor (who wants to take over the world), in a final and exciting showdown.
Having introduced Claire's the ability to travel outside of her body and into another dimension in book two, The Warding of Willowmere, Baird further develops Claire's mind-travels into much greater detail in The Wyrd of Willowmere. As a revenant, Claire uses her ability to mentally visit Pandaimonium, a daimon dimension (and pun on the word "Pandemonium"). Not only does Claire visit Pandaimonium in an attempt to seek answers to how she can defeat her enemies, but several times she also comes under attack in this world. The story begins its climax in this dimension, but, as Claire battles the evil forces, she is pulled back into our world where the story reaches its final climax and resolution.
This novel has a decidedly darker tone to it than the previous two. Seventeen-year-old Claire Norton is now very comfortable in her role and has accepted her gifts. She has embraced her memories of her two past lives as Flower-in-a-Drought and Alice Ramsay and awaits her destiny in this life. Not heavily involved in the previous two novels, her dear friend and mentor, Myra Moore, is very much present in this final Chronicle, and, with a supportive and mentoring role in Claire's life, there is no denying the tight bond between the two. Mentioned in the two previous installments, Barbara Norton's mysterious disappearance four years earlier has left the reader anxiously awaiting her possible return into the Nortons' lives. Baird doesn't disappoint. The author also believably portrays a single-parent home with a father who does his best at providing as warm environment as before his wife left and a daughter who longs to share her special gifts and experiences with a mother who understands.
Claire, an 'old soul' from her previous lives, has been quite a loner in the past novels. Here though, Claire, at last, has found acceptance in Brian Andrews' clique. Baird believably relates Claire's happiness at finally making friends while questioning her own feelings towards Brian. Although still welcome, she eventually learns that her presence in the group is hurting one of the other girls who has strong feelings for Brian. In this situation, Baird once again creates a story based on the fantastical more plausible to the reader by making Claire someone with whom teenagers can easily relate.
Baird's "Willowmere Chronicles" is a three-part tale of good versus evil that is wisely woven over three books and grandly brought to a climax and resolution in The Wyrd of Willowmere.
Saache Heinrich is a librarian for the Saskatoon Public Library in saskatoon, SK. While not normally a fantasy reader, she has found enjoyment in being challenged to review a series based on alternate dimensions!
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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.