________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 2 . . . . September 12, 2008

cover Grim Hill: The Secret Deepens.

Linda DeMeulemeester.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2008.
185 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-897073-97-1.

Subject Headings:
Magic-Juvenile fiction.
Fairies-Juvenile fiction.
Sisters-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Caitlin J. Berry.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.

excerpt:

The whole house plunged into darkness. My heart thumped as I scrambled to find a candle in my room. But what good was a candle when I didn’t have any matches? Although the day had been reasonably mild, the wind now howled in shrill blasts, and a bitter draft made its way through the window pane. Blood pumped loudly in my ears, so I missed the pitter-patter of steps down the hall. I jumped back and my heart thumped when a ghostly face hovered in my doorway.

Gasping, I realized it was only Sookie. Her face was illuminated by the spooky pale light of her Aladdin’s lamp. “Power’s gone out,” she said coolly. Pulling myself together, and determined to be braver than my kid sister, I forced a calm expression. Sookie was never scared of the dark. Of course, I wasn’t either; I just didn’t like it much. Swallowing my nerves, I went downstairs with Sookie. Her lamp lit our way.

 

Cat Peters is back, and her focus on soccer is as tight and unwavering as ever as she trains for the big upcoming boys versus girls’ match. All seems to be going well, until her little sister, Sookie, finds a mysterious purple turban in the attic — there’s something about the turban that just seems eerie to Cat, though she can’t seem to put her finger on what. And lately Sookie seems to think about little else other than magic, something which Cat also finds peculiar. After Sookie practices magic tricks endlessly in the privacy of her own room (with a little bit of help from her friend, Skeeter), she begins putting on magic shows for anyone who will watch. Sookie tells Cat that she’s learning to conjure; these aren’t cheap parlor tricks, that’s for certain.

      When Sookie’s hamster, Buddy — Sookie’s first magical test subject — falls into a deep and endless sleep after Sookie tries out one of her “magic tricks,” Cat knows something is awry. It turns out that Cat’s on to something: one after another, all of Sookie’s magician’s assistants — kids from her school — fall into the very same disturbing slumber. Taking matters into her own hands (the grown ups being ignorant to the whole ordeal), Cat recognizes who is behind it all: the infamous fairies (as well as some additionally menacing fairy friends) of Grim Hill who have their evil grip on her little sister.

      Taking action, Cat ropes in as many people as possible (including some of her soccer teammates), and they hatch a plan to save all of the children who are trapped in the fairy world by Sookie’s very conjuring spells. Once there, Cat confronts the devilish fairies that she thought she had previously put to rest. Turns out, however, it’s going to take some pretty potent final magic to put them to rest for good....

      Darker (and a little spookier) than its predecessor, The Secret, Grim Hill’s plot is tightly knit, and its focus is as unwavering as Cat’s obsession with soccer. DeMeulemeester’s details plunge us happily into Cat’s world, and the story trots along seemingly as fast as one can turn the pages.

      With Grim Hill, DeMeulemeester, once again, does an impressive job of weaving in sports, academics, an entertaining cast of characters, along with authentic Celtic fairy lore. Sookie’s character is deliciously eerie (she’s certainly not your typical tag-a-long little sister), and Cat’s character is truthful and feisty without being brazen.

      DeMeulemeester, with delicacy, also paints the backdrop of a truthful struggle regarding Sookie and Cat’s mother: one wonders whether both Cat’s obsession with soccer and Sookie’s obsession with magic have anything to do with their parents’ recent divorce, their lack of a father figure, and their mother’s struggle with paying the bills.

      On the whole, Grim Hill is a pleasure to read (thus a quick one), and Cat’s character offers a strong female protagonist who seems less interested in boys than they are in her, which is wholly refreshing. With Grim Hill: The Secret Deepens, DeMeulemeester has seemingly hit her stride.

Recommended.

Caitlin Berry is a graduate of Vermont College’s Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults program. She is also a guest reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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