Rec Ages 8-12
Liberty Frye is an eleven-year-old girl from an amazing family. The latest addition in a maternal bloodline of witches, poor Liberty is finding dealing with her inherited powers to be not so easy. She feels lonely and isolated as she struggles to understand them. Meanwhile, she is dealing with a new sister, who used to be her best friend, now she just seems to be the perfect example of everything Liberty can’t seem to achieve. Her mother is also very sick and Liberty can’t help but think that it has something to do with her.
For her birthday her uncle Frank takes the girls on a cruise of Biloxi Bay, while Liberty’s parents prepare for her birthday. When out on the water Frank demonstrates his new invention, unexpected consequences ensue and the group find themselves somewhere in South Pacific or is it some time? What follows is a rollicking adventure with island natives, dread pirates and maybe even an old enemy.
For a middle-grade adventure, this story is remarkably well developed. Kudos to the author for not writing down to her audience. Not only does Libby have to deal with mastering, or not quite mastering, her newfound powers, but she is also dealing with struggles that come with simply being an eleven-year-old girl; like bra shopping, body changes, and changing relationships with her friends and within her family. It is nice to see a fantasy story where young women will be able to see themselves in the characters.
As a character, she is spunky and persistent. She could do with a dose of self-esteem, but then what adolescent couldn’t. The characters around her are an eclectic bunch including a feisty AI robot named Esmerelda, invented by her slightly scatterbrained-genius Uncle Frank, Uncle Frank’s mostly skeptical sailing buddy Sal and Liberty’s foster sister Ginny.
This is a book for girls that isn’t too girly. I especially enjoyed the nod to Spiderman and the famous “with great powers come great responsibilities,” mantra. It is a concept that applies so well across genders and generations.
This book began with a warning to the reader to proceed with caution, that adventure, danger and dark mysteries of magic will be forthcoming and the story delivers. I am looking forward to more adventures with Libby and her crew.
parts of this article were previously posted at I Read What You Write