(Middle Grade / Fantasy)
By Susan Srikant
When Joss’ sister, BiBi gets sick, it’s up to Joss to save her from the poison consuming her body. Unfortunately, there is no cure until Joss and her friends get wind of the ancient human friends, the Jarrlocks.
Let’s start out with what’s good. The author wastes no time on details or long explanations. She gets the story rolling right away with young Bibi eating some poisonous berries. That’s just chapter one! So there she does well.
On top of this, she has a wonderful use of words, especially when dealing with describing action and their surroundings. Check out below:
Mr. Hall slipped an arm around his wife’s waist in an attempt to provide some comfort while fighting to contain his own anguish.
But a firm hand grasped her exposed ankle like a vice, wrenched her from the hole, and dragged her along the ground.
And for these reasons, I didn’t give her a much lower score. She has talent with words, but…there are areas that are lacking. For instance, dialogue. Far too often, her dialogue is apropos to nothing, shoved in our faces with little or no revelance to the events around them. One such incident: earlier in the story a hawk attacks Joss. Later she brings it up by saying,
“Have you ever known a hawk to dive at someone, I mean over and over, like it was set on tearing the person to shreds?”
Not only do her words feel unnatural, the way this conversation arises in the story feels forced. After which, Miss Gizelle—the know-everything-about-strange-creatures character—explains about Krone and his hawk, Havoc. Clearly, Joss’ dialogue above was to give us this exposition. However, shortly after, Anton is attacked badly by the hawk and then has his wounds treated by Miss Gizelle who could’ve delivered the same information then, at a much more prudent story point.
That’s not all. As above, we hear about Krone who appears to be a big bad guy the moment we hear him step into Miss Gizelle’s house one night, and yet he actually poses very little problems for the kids and seems to have no real agenda at all, especially for chasing after them. On top of this, he is thwarted with ease.
Now, it may sound worse than you think, but there is a lot of imagination in the book. The author picks out wonderful names for many strange creatures and objects she invents. Clearly, she has imagination. Unfortunately, she still needs to work harder on her plot and dialogue. The rest was top notch.
The book was fast read, so bad or good, it doesn’t take much time. When the story is bogged down by useless, non sequitur dialogue, it actually flows quite nicely. The big problem is she writes description and action scenes quite well, but the age group and the genre she’s writing for tend more toward strong and unique dialogue. If I chose to read like some of my students—skipping over large paragraphs to get to the juicy things characters have to say—I’d end up missing the most sparkling parts. In the end, a little more work, and it would’ve rock-solid.
Check out The Remedy, here.
Or the author’s website, here.