June 23, 2020
Algonquin Young Readers
Blurb: Human-raised brothers Tinn and Cole join forces with Fable, daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, to stop the fighting between the people of Endsborough and the creatures of the Wild Wood before violence turns into all-out war.
Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.
But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.
In this second book in the Oddmire series, the New York Times bestselling author of Jackaby takes readers on an adventure full of monsters, mayhem, and magic.
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If you look at my review policy page, you’ll note my bias toward one sub-genre: fantasy. Generally, fantasy novels make my eyes glaze over at the first vision of a completely unpronounceable name 150 characters long followed by a sudden onset of unexplained fatigue, severe drowsiness, and immediate napping. It’s like a sleeping pill in book form for this reader. So, for me to gush over a fantasy novel, waxing rhapsodic over the characters, themes, and adventure while not quite the end of life as we know it, is pretty darn close. Semi-kidding. With the Oddmire series, William Ritter has accomplished that feat. He’s made me care about a fantasy novel and it’s loveable characters.
In my review of The Changeling (see my review here), I mentioned that my favorite character was Fable and Book Two in The Oddmire is Fable’s book, much to my delight. This is not to say that the other much-loved character from The Changeling don’t play a huge part, but this is Fable’s turn to shine.
As the book opens, change is coming to the Wild Wood in the form of a greedy man who wishes to exploit its riches. Naturally all of the creatures who call the Wild Wood home are upset and expect the Queen of the Deep Dark to protect them as she always does but hesitation on her part has them acting on their own.
Meanwhile, in Endsborough Tinn and Cole are getting used to their lives again after their adventure in the Wild Wood. And, this gives an opportunity for Fable, who knows no bounds, to attend school with the boys—a completely delightful scene.
Ritter touches all of the emotions in The Unready Queen. A prophecy early on had me cringing while reading subsequent pages expecting something bad to happen. Despite the anxiousness, I was laughing, absorbed, teary and jubilant at the end.
While this calls itself a middle grade novel, I think anyone who reads it would be engaged by the story and the characters. Ritter does a fantastic job with characterization, creating layered characters who the reader identifies with.
Also timely is the theme of an environment being in peril, which every one of us should identify with.
Even if you think you hate fantasy, you might want to give this charming series a read. I am so glad that I have!
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
5 out of 5 butterflies