Our rating: ****½

Young Bisky the mouse and his friends at Redwall are determined to find the four great jewels that were hidden long ago by Gonff, the prince of thieves. Unfortunately, this treasure is also sought after by the raven Korvus Skurr and his hoard of sinister Doomwytes. Solving riddles, braving danger, and meeting many allies along the way, the Redwallers may still be up against more than they bargained for.

I must admit I didn’t go into Doomwyte expecting much. However, I ended up pleasantly surprised. Several funny moments, some riddles, plenty of adventure, and a new sort of villainous threat. I think what really pulled it off for me, though, is the lack of character stereotypes. After so many books in the series, there starts to be almost a standard for “the abbot character,” “the hero character,” and so on. But this one felt fresh and different, while still keeping in the same general feel as the other books. I’d say Doomwyte is worthy to sit on the shelf with the rest of the Redwall series.

Urchin of the Riding Stars

Our rating: ***½

The animals on Mistmantle Island have always led peaceful lives, but things are thrown into chaos when the young Prince Tumble is found murdered right in a hallway of the royal Tower. As harsher laws are passed and events orchestrate themselves a little too well, it becomes evident that an evil intrigue has formed within the Circle—and will endanger the lives and welfare of many.
Urchin is only a new page and the squirrel who’s never quite fit in, but those few animals who know of his mysterious beginning are sure he’ll have a powerful impact on the destiny of the island.

This is certainly an enjoyable read. The populace of squirrels, hedgehogs, otters, and moles bears a similarity to the Redwall series, but I found the overall feel to be different enough that it doesn’t seem like a case of copycat. This was my second time through Urchin, and although I don’t consider it a must-read, it’s worthwhile if you enjoy this style of fantasy.


Our rating: ****½

The Searat captain Vizka Longtooth captures a young badger, which he decides to tame. But Gorath (the badger) is angry at the rats for killing his grandparents, and he plans to escape as soon as he can. Meanwhile, badger lord Asheye has a dream, telling him that Salamandastron’s new badger ruler will be found defending Redwall Abbey. He sends out perilous hare Mad Maudie to find the badger and bring him back. If that wasn’t complicated enough, Redwall Abbey has also banished a young hedgehog thief, telling him not to come back for a whole season. The resulting tale does indeed end up making sense in true Redwall fashion.

Doing a review of a Redwall book is always a challenge. I have read all eighteen books before this one, and I already have a favorite picked out. That being said, Eulalia! certainly meets expectations. The characters are just as memorable as always, the story just as complicated, and the ending just as satisfying.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Our rating: ***½

After Karana’s tribe is decimated by greedy otter hunters, they leave the Island of the Blue Dolphins on a ship. Karana, however, is left behind while chasing after her younger brother. The rest of the story is about her struggle for survival as she looks for a way to escape and join her tribe.

The author’s note in the back of this book tells the true story of Karana, a woman who arrived at a mission in California and befriended a priest there shortly before her death. Scott O’Dell states that little is known of her story, and that it intrigued him enough to write one. While well-written and very enjoyable, Island of the Blue Dolphins doesn’t strike me as Scott O’Dell’s best work, nor as his worst. Zia is the sequel.

The Wind in the Willows

Our rating: *****

Mole, tired of spring cleaning, decides to leave his cozy little home and take a walk. His ramblings take him to The River, where he meets the Water Rat and the fun begins. Mole stays with Rat in his bank-side home and enjoys sharing the Rat’s love of boating. While staying there, Mole becomes friends with Otter, Mr. Badger, and Mr. Toad. Everything progresses nicely, until the Toad decides to try the wandering life of a gypsy and takes Mole and Rat along. In a highway accident, their lovely little cart is upset by a motorcar. The Mole and Rat are very annoyed, but Toad becomes infatuated with the speed and sound of motorcars and orders one of his own. Unfortunately, he disregards all rules. Badger, Rat, and Mole set out to help their friend over his dangerous driving habits, despite personal discomfort.

How to describe The Wind in the Willows? Sheer, wonderful bliss from beginning to end. There are so many adventures, so many thrills and joys. This is one of my favorite books. This is as good as it gets. (Unless you count Winnie-the-Pooh.) Don’t miss it! It’s perfect for children, young adults, and adults who are young or feel young. I have also enjoyed the audio book, read by Flo Gibson, on numerous occasions. I can close my eyes and hear whole parts of the book. A delightful story.