________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 20 . . . . May 30, 2008

cover The Nexus Ring. (Veil of Magic; Book I).

Maureen Bush.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2007.
127 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-1-55050-362-3.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Janet Margaret Johnson.

***½ /4


Aleena slipped off her cloak. Her black pants and shirt were as tight as skin. She pulled her hair out of its bun, moving as if she had fewer bones in her body than humans do, like seaweed under water. Her hair fell past her waist, light grey at the crown of her head, gradually shading into black down her back. Then she shook herself, like a dog shakes water off its fur. When she stopped, she was completely dry.


In this totally charming fantasy meant for the younger child who can read beyond chapter books, two children have a magical adventure. The Nexus Ring is the story of a brother and sister who play a make-believe game to overcome boredom on the long car ride between British Columbia and their home in Calgary after a summer visit with their grandmother. Whenever the family get to familiar landmarks, their mother suggests these places require a magical talisman to allow them to go through these “veils of magic.” Maddy, the youngest child, finds a green stone ring on the floor of the tourist shop on the ferry between Vancouver Island and the mainland which becomes her magical item to get them off the ferry. Her brother, Josh, is skeptical about this game but plays along for his younger sister’s sake.

     On the ferry, they encounter a sinister looking man who turns out to be the troll who had originally stolen this ring from a giant called Keeper. The children also encounter a water sprite who takes the form of a human being who is also trying to get this ring. The troll follows the family and at a rest stop enchants their parents so they take off leaving the children behind.  Aleena, the water sprite, rescues them from the troll and takes them through a veil of mist into an enchanted parallel world. Eventually, the children escape from Aleena, encounter another race of non humans who resemble otters, and reach the giant’s castle.

     The story has a happy ending with the children being returned to their parents without them having to call the police to report their missing children. The giant is a friendly giant who even replaces the magic ring that Maddy returns to him. There are a few environmental messages in the undercurrents of the plot in the guise of how wonderful the magical world is and how humans do so much harm, but otherwise all the storylines are neatly tied up and resolved.

     Understanding the setting in the first part of the story might be a problem for readers from the east coast who have not taken the highways and the ferry terminal at Schwartz Bay, British Columbia. However, any child who likes to play “make-believe” could follow and enjoy the story and will overcome this difficulty. Readers will also relate to the relationship between and older brother and a younger sister and the need for the elder to protect his sibling from danger.

     The dialogue is simple and direct. For instance, the author writes: “After a stop at the washrooms (Dad says travelers should pee whenever they get the chance).” This vocabulary may offend the sensitivities of some readers although I feel it would be language natural for children at the reading age for this book. The author offers rational explanations whenever necessary, and the story is a happy mix of dialogue and descriptions.  

     Even though this novel seems complete in itself, it would be a treat to read more of the adventures of these two interesting young characters. Except for the regional bias of the setting of this story, I would give it an excellent rating.

Highly Recommended.

Janet Margaret Johnson currently teaches Children’s and Young Adult Literature online at Red River College in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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