by Barbara Marionda
First sentence: “
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Review copy picked up at KidlitCon.
Lucy was a happy girl, living in a huge house with her parents near the bay, until one fateful night when they were out on a schooner, and her father attempted to rescue a drowning man. The schooner was capsized and both of Lucy’s parents drowned.
Now Lucy has to do everything she can to keep the house — her beloved father’s “ship on shore” — out of the hands of her greedy Uncle Victor. It helps that she’s found a friend and mentor in the mysterious Marni, and that the house does weird things: sparkling mist, enchanted flutes, and expanding bookcases that help Lucy in her mission.
On the one hand, this book works as a straight-up orphan story. It has all the elements: a Greedy Uncle That Wants To Take Away The Thing Orphan Loves Most (though I was never sure just why he wanted to sell the house so badly); pathetic, abandoned children (mother died, father was a drunk); and a savior in a kind woman who takes everyone in.
What threw me, really, was the magic. It felt out of place, like it didn’t really need to be there. I kept getting the feeling that the magic was kind of superfluous, and not really integral to the story. By the end, I kind of understood where Mariconda was going with the both the magic thing and the whole voyage thing, but it was kind of off-putting that I spent most of the book wondering WHY everything was happening. Call me impatient, but I don’t get along well with books that are all questions and no answers.
Now that the set-up is out of the way, and there is actually a voyage happening, however, I probably will want to read the next book in the series.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)