CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 20 . . . .May 25, 2007
The Ruby Kingdom. (The Passage to Mythrin).
Toronto, ON: Boardwalk Books/Dundurn Press, 2007.
265 pp., pbk., $12.99.
Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.
Review by Libby McKeever.
The girl just nudged the robe with her foot. It was a long foot with sharp toenails, crusted with snow.
"Let's g-get Celeste." Simon failed his arms around his sides. "Can't you s-see there's something wrong with her?"
"Sure I can. But." Amelia sank her hands into her pockets. Her fingers closed on the ruby ring. How did that get there? And, funny—instead of being cold it was warm. Holding it was like holding somebody's hand. It helped. She squeezed, then let it go.
"Help me get up there," she said. "And don't argue!"
It was only when Amelia was standing on the hut roof beside the girl that she felt afraid. Only then did she realise how tall the girl was—as tall as her dad, at least. The face staring down at her from its tangle of hair was only shadow with two faint lights in it.
Amelia Hammer was initially very excited when her parents announced that their next project was in Peru. At 14, she was ready for adventure and excitement, but, rather than joining them, Amelia found herself shunted off to live with her grandmother and her less than cool cousin, Simon. Simon tries hard to be patient with Ammy. Wrapped up in her disappointment, Goth outfits, and neon hair, Amelia is hardly affable.
Dunstone is a seemingly harmless and boring town, but, after a series of strange sightings and the appearance of Mara, a mysterious new girl, and the discovery of a ruby ring, events take a turn for the worst.
Wary of Mara and frightened that he and Amelia are getting mixed up in some kind of danger, Simon's fears are realized when a shape-shifting assassin begins tracking Mara. It is apparent that Mara is also not from this world, and Amelia, Simon and their friend Ike find themselves at the portal of an alien world, and, in Amelia's quest to save Mara, they are brought face-to-face with a war between legendary beasts.
Bow has developed an interesting shift to the classic fantasy tale of portals to other worlds, and the eventual discovery of what Mara actually is comes as an exciting surprise. Bow's characters are very appealing, and readers will relate to the spunky Ammy, the reliable, protective Simon and the joking and inventive Ike. At the book's conclusion, readers will be tantalized by the promise of other doors, and the sequel to The Ruby Kingdom will be anxiously anticipated.
The Ruby Kingdom is the first book in "The Passage to Mythrin" series, and Bow is currently working on its sequel, "The Prism Blade." Bow has written several mystery titles in German, short stories and The Bone Flute, a fantasy novel which was nominated for the 2006 Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch Award in 2006 and the Red Cedar Award in 2007.
Libby McKeever is a library technician who works in the library at Whistler Secondary School in Whistler, BC.
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