CBBT – Wayfarer by R. J. Anderson, Day 3


Wayfarer, the Children’s Book Blog Tour feature for June, is R. J. Anderson‘s second novel. I had the privilege of reviewing the first, Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter back in March, which is why I jumped on the opportunity to participate in this tour.

Despite the fact that my initial reaction to stories about faeries was negative, I found myself wholly engrossed in the world and the characters Anderson created. So that brings me to the review of Wayfarer, the sequel to the book that introduced me to the Oakenwyld and the faeries without magic.

The Story. Fifteen years after the end of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter Linden, the step-daughter to the main character I grew to love, is ready to take on an adult role in the Oakenwyld. But she faces a dying world. Her queen, the only faery with magic in the Oak, is dying, and along with her, the glimpse that keeps predators from knowing that a colony of faeries lives inside.

Linden receives a portion of the queen’s magic and the assignment to find other faeries who can restore the magic to the dwindling and endangered group.

Meanwhile, a new human moves into the big house—Paul’s young nephew Timothy, the son of missionaries who is experiencing a crisis of faith. In days, feeling confused, betrayed and alone, Timothy strikes out on his own.

Except unbeknown to him, Linden goes along. And so their adventures begin. Both their lives and the ones they love are at risk unless they team up to find help.

Strengths. It’s hard for me to say how much I loved this book. At one point as I was reading, I had to put it down and think about how well crafted it was. I was fully engaged, the plot complications naturally ratcheted the tension higher, and the stakes became greater.

How did she do it, I asked myself. One event naturally grew out of another event, one choice naturally let to a greater problem. And the story bloomed before my eyes.

Danger, intrigue, surprise. These are the hallmarks of a great plot. But this story was more. It also had great characters—believable, troubled, courageous, ultimately sacrificial. They became admirable and I wanted so very much to see them succeed.

And still there was more. Wayfarer addresses some deep issues, perhaps the central most being the need to take a risk on behalf of others rather than to seek a selfishly safe haven for a few like-minded folk (or faeries).

Weakness. A few reviewers said they liked Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter a bit more than Wayfarer. I didn’t feel that way. I loved them equally.

If I had to give a criticism, I’d say this one started a little slow. I was shocked to be in the point of view of a human boy in the first chapter (I blame this on the girlie-girl cover). I also thought he was an unreliable narrator because he found fault with the characters I loved in the first book. So it took me a little while to warm up to Timothy.

The turning point for me was when Linden did the first heroic deed. Because I wanted her to succeed, I also wanted Timothy to succeed, and I was hooked.

Recommendation. I consider this one a must read for fantasy lovers. I give the book my highest recommendation to anyone, young or old, male or female, who loves a good story.

Finally, I’d like to invite you to see what tour participants are talking about (several have some excellent author interviews).

Special thanks to HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, for supplying me with a review copy of Wayfarer.

CBBT – Wayfarer by R. J. Anderson, Day 2


Shortly after the CSFF Blog Tour for R. J. Anderson‘s first novel, Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter, I lent my copy to a friend who writes YA fantasy. She’s even written a faery story though it hasn’t found a publishing home. I knew she’d be interested in reading a story about Knife and the faeries without magic.

When our next writer get-together drew near, I asked for the book back because a couple other people were in line to read it. Lo and behold, my friend had started it, but her target-audience daughter snatched it up and devoured it instead. In fact, my friend reported how on pins and needles said daughter was, waiting for Wayfarer.

Thinking that I’d be through with the Children’s Book Blog Tour (I got my dates wrong), I’d said I would pass along my ARC in exchange for the first book. Oh, woe! I feel like I’ve disappointed this eager reader!

But here’s the point. Too often when I’m doing reviews, I lose sight of the target audience. I formulate my opinion based on my likes and dislikes, my expectations and interests, my writing style preferences. I try not to, but it happens. Then I encounter the raw enthusiasm of a reader in love with a new world she’s discovered, and I realize, as much as I may have liked Wayfarer (and I DID), it pales in comparison to the joy a target-audience reader will experience.

Stories like the ones the talented R. J. Anderson has written spark something in young readers, I think. They stretch the world and make all things seem possible. They create mystery but also throw down the gauntlet of becoming to those moving toward adulthood.

A young person can grow to be selfish, using others and protecting self, or he can grow to be sacrificial, helping others and giving himself away. Anderson paints the contrasts clearly and even paints the risks of sacrifice accurately. Good choices aren’t necessarily happy choices. They usually cost.

But when a character a reader loves makes the good choice, somehow that reader, especially that young reader, is ennobled. Suddenly, the idea that sacrifice and selflessness can be achieved and will make a difference seems like an idea for today, for now, for the young as much as for the old.

That’s when stories take on power. That’s when they become much more than entertainment, much more than enjoyable.

That’s the kind of book I believe Wayfarer is.

See what others on the CBBT circuit think:

Special thanks to HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, for supplying me with a review copy of Wayfarer.

CBBT – Wayfarer by R. J. Anderson, Day 1


Here’s Post #2 for today, my contribution to the Children’s Book Blog Tour featuring Wayfarer, R. J. Anderson‘s sequel to Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter, (HarperCollins). I already know, any CSFF Blog Tour participants who see this post will be jealous because I’ve had a chance to read Anderson’s second book (which just released this week) because the first one was so popular with those who recently reviewed it.

I’m happy to say, Wayfarer doesn’t suffer a sophomore jinx like so many second books do. The story continues what the first one started and is as exciting and full of suspense, intrigue, twists, and truth as its predecessor.

I’ll admit, the US cover (pictured above, on the right—the other is the UK version) threw me. During the CSFF Blog Tour for Anderson’s debut novel, a number of reviewers commented on the pixy-like image on the cover, reminiscent of Tinkerbell (you can see that cover pictured here). Since that image fit what I thought of in connection to faeries, I wasn’t troubled. But this more adult, prim and proper version pictured on the cover of Wayfarer was a little off-putting.

Then I started reading. After the short prologue I discovered this story was as much a boy’s story as it was a faery’s. And, quite frankly, in the early going, I missed Knife (the main character in the first book).

But all these concerns led to nothing. I soon forgot about the girlie-girl cover and came to care for Timothy as I delved into the fast-paced, fun story that pushes the reader to think more deeply about … a variety of things—home, family, trust, selfishness, sacrifice, kindness, truthfulness, courage. There’s a LOT in this enjoyable story.

Plus, in a crucial place, Knife stepped up to be … Knife, which added to my delight. The character I’d grown to love in the last book wasn’t just a place holder or window dressing, even though Wayfarer wasn’t her story. She played a significant role, and I loved this book more because of it.

But there was lots to love about this story for itself. While I didn’t lose my attachment to Knife (and in fact actually felt more fond of her than ever), I quickly came to care about Linden and Timothy.

Wayfarer is its own story, not a repeat of the earlier book. The characters were unique, the conflict ratcheted higher, and the effects spread wider with more at stake. In other words, this story felt bigger, more complex.

But enough of my introduction.

Take a look at what other Children’s Book Blog Tour participants have to say about Wayfarer:

Special thanks to HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, for supplying me with a review copy of Wayfarer.

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