CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 19. . . .January 21, 2011
The Prince of Two Tribes. (Chronicles of the Misplaced Prince, Vol. II).
Toronto, ON: Puffin Canada, 2010.
357 pp., pbk., $14.00.
Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.
Review by Todd Kyle.
"Oh, crap. Why can't people just leave me alone? All I want is to be left alone to figure out what's happening to me. I just want to be normal."
"Well," Charlie said, smiling, "there are a lot of different kinds of normal. And you aren't any of them, Brendan. Come on."
"Where are we going?"
She pointed. "Up!"
They stood at the foot of the Rogers Centre, the domed stadium that was home to the Blue Jays baseball team. The white curve of the roof glowed dimly in the moonlight.
"Up?" Brendan gulped.
"Up!" Charlie repeated, trotting toward the sheer concrete wall.
"You're nuts!" he moaned.
After a moment's consideration, Brendan shook his head and started after her.
In this, the second volume of the "Chronicles of the Misplaced Prince," comic actor Seán Cullen continues to mesmerize readers with his story of Brendan, who finds out at the age of 14 that he is actually part of the Faerie world, abandoned by his parents to be raised by Humans and destined to save the Earth from Human destruction and Fair Folk war. Amid his difficulty at learning Faerie arts and balancing them with his Human friends and family and their suspicion of his spells to forget what they've seen, Brendan learns that he must prove his talent both his newfound family and those who would prefer to wage Dark war against humankind. With the help of his new friends, as well as the mysterious punk-faerie Charlie, Brendan manages to prove himself, only to face the ultimate possibility of abandoning his Human family.
Like all of Cullen's work, the serious nature of this book is belied by the humorous and ironic interjections of the all-seeing Narrator who injects explanatory footnotes and off-kilter observations into the fantastic plot. The Toronto setting of the story continues to be fascinating, with Faeries frolicking on the "Ward's Island" and flying from the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower, hidden in plain view by "glamours" to make them unnoticeable to Humans. Again, the most convincing aspect of the fantasy world Cullen creates is the sense that magic takes rather challenging mental concentration, as well as a connection to the Earth's energy. Brendan's links to his Human family and friends continue to function as a moral compass, and the very subtle sense of impending environmental doom is not only timely, but convincing.
Cullen seems to be striving for the ultimate combination of fantasy, adventure, pathos, humour, believability, and social relevance, and here he hits his mark.
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario and has served on the jury of a number of children's literature awards.
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