Monday, March 3, 2014

What Makes Great Middle Grade Fantasy?

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       I've fallen in love with middle grade fantasy. This is pretty amazing considering the kind of person I was as a child, tween, teen and younger adult. Life was serious business to me and wasting time watching cartoons, reading fiction other than historical never seemed like a good use of my time. Pouring over self-help became an addiction. It's taken me years to learn that reading, imagining and creating something new is where the real enjoyment is. That being entertained isn't a waste of time but an important part of using our brains and understanding the world around us. Most of all, it's just damn fun!! Who knew?

An enjoyable fantasy read is rooted in characters with depth and great voice as well as believable worlds that make sense. I'm very particular about what enjoy. Sue Giffard expressed it nicely in her blog post:

"While all fiction faces the challenge of making the reader believe in the authenticity of the story, the bar for writers of fantasy is set even higher. If we are to accept a world that includes the impossible and unexplainable, the writer has to create consistent rules and believable settings, characters and plots that draw us in." –Sue Gifford on School Library Journal including her booklist. 

Often I think writers forget that fantasy doesn't need to be a fat book or part of a series to be enjoyable. Be sure to check out Giffard's list of fantasies that deliver. Jodell Sadler explains that economy is what is key with these stand-alone fantasies.

"Creating a successful scene isn’t about writing a long-winded passage that shares every detail. It’s about being painterly in choosing details that serve more than one purpose." —Jodell Sadler in the Illinois SCBWI newsletter.

She goes on to explain that it is often the voice that carries the reader through and I agree that sometimes it's the character that binds us to the book, creates that sense of being there and leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Middle grade readers are looking for that book that will stay with them throughout their reading lives. Molly O'neil's statement says it best:

"Sometimes it’s not always the idea that is the magical part of the story—an incredible voice or character can make even the most average story-moments feel vivid and memorable. But that’s just it—memorable is important. I think about middle grade being the time when a lot of readers discover “that book”—the one that turns them into a lifelong reader, or explodes their world open with new ideas, or shares exactly the right truth at exactly the right moment in a way they’ll never forget." —Molly O'neil with Dystel and Godrich Literary Management.

About The Book: Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body.
2 minute book trailer

Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body.Fourteen-year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services--an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks. Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father's reckless plan to repair the Rift--a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension. When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn's body to fight off his father's seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body... and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.

Faery Swap is an action and druid-magic filled portal fantasy, told by both a runaway faery prince and the boy he's tricked into taking his place.

This Prince and the Pauper meets Warrior Faeries tale is suitable for all ages. —Goodreads 

What Others Are Saying: "I highly recommend this book for anyone that likes to read and wants a good fantasy whether you are an adult looking for a good read, a parent looking for a good book for your kid, or a kid/teenager with computer access looking for your next good book." —Avid Reader Geek via Amazon

"I read FAERY SWAP and loved it. It’s a great fantasy about Finn, who gets swapped into the faery world by a boy his age, Zaneyr, a Prince in this faery world. I loved reading from both of their POVs and this is a fast paced story that is a page turner. And it will definitely appeal to boys as well as girls." —Natalie Agguire via Amazon

What I Thought: Wow! This was a fun ride. At first I was concerned that I would have a hard time with all the names that were similar sounding, King Dageyr, Zaneyr, Liranna, Ronaneyr, but with Quinn's spectacular characterization, I didn't. Her world is believable for several reasons. She doesn't get bogged down in details and only gives us enough to move the plot along. The plot is character driven, instead of having her characters acted upon as the meander through the characters lead the story and it's outcome. Very well written. What I loved most was the math and scientific thinking that she slipped in. When Liranna tells Finn to be quiet she's trying to "reason" Quinn shows how scientific thinking is used to problem solve by first stating what is known and then asking questions. "Human's come through the portal on the swap. They must be capable of travel by portal. Maybe the dimensional energy matrix vibrates on a different frequency for humans. Yes! Different! Different, but similar. But how..." This is a fantasy you don't want to miss.

Faery Swap

Kindle | Nook | Print

About The Author: 
Susan Kaye Quinn

Who: In my prior life, I worked for NASA and got a lot of degrees in engineering. (Yes, I really am a rocket scientist and have the Ph.D. to prove it!) I used the logical-left-side of my brain to design aircraft engines and study global warming. Now that I write fiction, I love using the creative-right-side of my brain to create compelling characters and dramatic adventures as well as the logical-left-side to weave math, science, and technology into my stories. Math and science have always seemed wondrous to me, so it made sense to me that the warrior faeries in Faery Swap would steal mathematical knowledge from humans in order to enhance their magickal faery powers.

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  1. This sounds like a great read! Fantasy and Stonehedge--I'm in! Thanks for featuring this book--will be definitely adding it to my TBR list!


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jenni. Just read your sample chapter of your book Super Lexi and added that to my list of books for my Grandkids and recommended it on Facebook!!

  2. I'm not big on fantasy, but this one sounds pretty interesting. Thanks for the review.

  3. Yay for Susan! She's visiting me today, too. Phew...Her FAERY SWAP is keeping her busy.

  4. Loved your MG fantasy championing thoughts! Thank you!


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