Stewart, Paul and Riddell, Chris. The Immortals.
Nominated for the Cybils by Brigan Del.
Even though I have only read the first in this series (Beyond the Deepwoods), this finale made sense. Nate is a lamplighter in the phrax mines, and when his best friend is murdered, he takes off for Great Glade, and has multiple adventures. In one paragraph, it's hard to give more synopsis than this, because there are so many subplots, characters, places and everything has a strange name! The writing is very descriptive and rich, and there are is a lot of action and adventure. Readers who love this series will have no trouble telling the banderbears from the skyworms, and will understand that this takes place about 500 years after the last book in the series (There are three trilogies; Twig, Quint and Rook). I just struggled to get through the 669 pages!
Strengths: The pictures in this are great, even if there are multiple maps! Hard core fantasy fans are enthralled by these, since the world of the Edge is vividly described in all its Steampunk glory.
Weaknesses: The first book came out in 1998, (with reissues in 2004) and by the time it came across my radar, it was tough to assemble the entire series. Follett does have the Publishers Hardcover set of all ten books available for $115.63 now. However, I am lacking hard core fantasy readers and will stick to these authors' Barnaby Grimes series, which is a little more accessible.
Bracegirdle, P.J. Unearthly Asylum (The Joy of Spooking)
Nominated for the Cybils by Susan Mitchell.
What a difference a cover can make! Although I enjoyed Fiendish Deeds, the cover has made it difficult to circulate. Once again, the evil Phipps of Darlington has his eyes on the property of Spooking. Not only would they like to see the houses made into fancy condos, they would like to turn the local insane asylum (there is discussion of how politically incorrect this title is) into a spa and resort. They're out of luck, however, because Joy, her brother, and her friend Gustave are wise to what's going on, especially since Joy wants to keep Spooking the way it is, as a tribute to writer and former resident E.A. Peugeot. Evil adults are constantly annoying Joy, and she has little patience for their antics, especially when they get in the way of her finding her lost pet frog, Fizz.
Strengths: There is a lot of fun action, and this is certainly a fresh story. Spooking is a great setting-- I would like to visit. I'd even mow Joy's lawn for her!
Weakness: Some strange subplots involving the adults distract from the story, and there are some overly precious moments, like a teacher gushing about how wonderful the "classic" book Tubey Dave is.
Batson, Wayne Thomas and Hopper, Christopher. Curse of the Spider King: The Berinfell Prophecies Book 1
Nominated for the Cybils by Deborah
It's never a good thing when portals open between worlds, especailly when evil spider minions find them, too! Because elf lords were sent to Earch as babies to save them after their kingdom was attached, the Spider King has traveled here to try to find them all, since they are approaching adolescence and coming into their powers. The seven children (of varying ethnic backgrounds and interests) are not alone; they are accompanied by sentinels, elves disguised as humans, such as the school librarian, Mrs. Galdarro. Obviously, saving two worlds requires a lot of fighting and action, and this book moves along at a nice clip. Sequels are sure to come.
Strengths: The characters are realistically drawn, which makes the fantasy element a bit of a surprise. Batson and Hopper obviously know some actual children! Big points for the fun librarian character.
Weaknesses: It was difficult to follow so many characters. Anytime I see lists of characters and places at the beginning of a book, my stomach sinks a bit. They are all well-developed, but having so many takes away from the story.