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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

"The Crooked Sixpence: The Uncommoners Book 1" by Jennifer Bell (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

 Visit Jennifer Bell's Website Here

OVERVIEW: For fans of the Apothecary series and "The Doldrums" comes the first in a fantasy trilogy where a city beneath London hides objects endowed with magical powers!

When officers brandishing toilet brushes arrive at their door, eleven-year-old Ivy Sparrow and her older brother, Seb, go tumbling into Lundinor, a secret underground city. The siblings find themselves in a world of enchantment, where uncommon people, alive and dead, trade in uncommon goods belts that enable the wearer to fly, yo-yos that turn into weapons, buttons with curative properties, and other enchanted objects capable of extraordinary feats.

But the charm wears thin when Ivy and Seb learn that their family is connected to one of the greatest uncommon treasures of all time and if they don t find it, their parents lives are forfeit. It s a race against time as Ivy and Seb attempt to unearth the treasure and rescue their parents.

Debut novelist Jennifer Bell delivers a world of wonder and whimsy in the start of a richly uncommon series. "Bell's world is part Tim Burton, part J.K. Rowling, infusing everyday objects with new life...This is a terrific debut, perfect for kids who can't keep up with their own imaginations." Soman Chainani, Author of the School for Good and Evil series"

FORMAT: The Crooked Sixpence is the first novel in the children's fantasy series The Uncommoners. It was originally published in the UK on June 2016, but made its way to the US in 2017.

The Crooked Sixpence stands at 320 pages. It was published in the US on January 31, 2017 by The Crown Books for Young Readers.

ANALYSIS: Middle grade, or children's, fantasy is one of my favorite genres. Unfortunately, it is a genre that runs hot and cold. There are really bad books out there that belittle readers, follow a format/template, or just are not that great. For every bad book out there, there is that one gem that is amazing. I read numerous children's fantasy books a year looking for that one gem. Sometimes I find them, sometimes I don't. This year, I found one early on – The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell.

Jennifer Bell worked in a children's bookstore. She spent years listening to children (and adults) about what they liked and didn't like about books. After a while, she decided to write her own novel and thus The Crooked Sixpence was born.

The Crooked Sixpence is a debut novel that doesn't feel like a writer's first novel at all. It is magical, has amazing world building, and characters that you just immediately want to follow through their adventures. Within the first few chapters, I had a very "Harry Potter" feeling about the book. No, it wasn't because it was a knockoff of Harry Potter, but I felt that magical feeling that I had (and still have) when reading Harry Potter.

One of the things that Jennifer Bell has said she tried to do is take elements that were a favorite of readers and put them into her novel. She achieved that with The Crooked Sixpence. Readers will be able to notice the influence that other children's novels had on this book, but there is a certain unique feel to the book.

For example, there is a very magical world that is hidden from non-magic people. The magical world relies upon objects that are typically thought of as normal, but some of them are special and have magical powers. A milk jug, for example, could be normal or if it is special in the magical world it is used as a lamp. Other examples include the magic folk have unique terms and sayings, the 'weird' clothing, and special shops and districts where the magic folk go to shop for their goods.

Crooked Sixpence is filled with action and adventure, but it doesn't overshadow the world building or even the plot. There is a very real and dangerous threat that is present, but it isn't too scary or too dark for younger readers. Older readers will even find the threat dangerous to the magical world.

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I expected to like it, I didn't know I would walk out with a book that I loved. It is one of those books I can certainly see myself reading over and over again with each reread I am sure I will grow to love it even more. Jennifer Bell certainly came onto the children's literature scene with a bang and I look forward to seeing what she brings in the future. It is still relatively early, but I can see this being one of the top books for 2017.

If you liked Harry Potter and are looking for a new novel that has the magic and charm of Harry Potter, The Crooked Sixpence is the place to look. It properly captures the magic without making it feel like a failed knockoff. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!


Jordan @ForeverLostinLiterature said...

This sounds wonderful! I've seen this in a few places, but didn't know much about it, so I was glad to see your post! I will definitely be checking this one out, it sounds so fun and magical. :) Great post!

Cindy said...

I was the same way. I had no idea what to expect. What a surprise! Let me know if you read it and what you think!

Stephanie said...

I am sold! I'm adding this to my list as we speak.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Nice. There needs to be some more great middle school fantasy reads. This sounds awesome. :)

Anonymous said...

It wasn't like Harry Potter but it was pretty good. I went on to read the other books aswell


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