Updated: Jun 29, 2021
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I have a soft spot for Celtic language and folklore. Typically, that connection links most directly to Ireland, but the other countries in the British Isles are likewise intriguing to me. My brother has been particularly intrigued by Wales since we were young, and one of the most important books of my childhood, A String in the Harp takes place in Wales. So, when I was asked to read the Coblyn Chronicles series by R. Chris Reeder, I eagerly accepted.
The Changeling’s Daughter is the first book in this series, introducing readers to Brynn McAwber and her family who live in the small town of Jeffersonville, Indiana. She has a best friend named Makayla, but very little ever happens in their midst; that is, until unusual events begin taking place around them. While the whole community seems to be losing its grip on reality and Brynn herself is experiencing some unusual occurrences, she learns important details about her own reality that shift her world significantly. And when Makayla suddenly becomes a different person entirely, a previously obscured reality opens up around Brynn, initiating a journey of self-discovery and survival. Please see my full review here.
I loved this story so much! It is written much like a video game would unfold, focusing on specific tasks that must be completed in order to gain a skill point and move to the next “zone.” Mini-boss fights lead to the climactic conclusion, all the while Brynn is learning how strong she truly is, but inside and out. The writing is designed so it was easy for me to imagine cinematics giving way to action sequences and travel across a vast, unknown world, just as a linear video game could be structured. I definitely recommend that Welsh cultural entities take a look at this story and determine whether it could be sponsored as a way to enhance global recognition of Welsh language and culture.
Besides the overall design of the book, the writing itself is fantastic. Incorporating a wide range of vocabulary into an entertaining tapestry of language, readers will love the unique flavor this gives to the narrative. One line in particular describes Brynn being “alone in a sea of cacophonous youth,” and this is but one of many examples. I love when language is used in unusual and memorable ways, and this story does just that.
While I would have appreciated a map and pronunciation guide to accompany this story, I nonetheless appreciated everything else it had to offer. It’s a fabulous transition from middle grade to young adult stories with only a bit more strong language and violence than typical middle grade books. Fans of Celtic folklore will especially love this delightful adventure.
The Trickster’s Sister is the second book in this excellent series, and it is another page-turner. Instead of focusing on Brynn, though, this time Makayla is the primary protagonist, sharing the stage with Ysbaddaden, whom readers will recognize from his cursory appearance in the first book. Makayla is struggling to come to terms with her ongoing anxiety after her capture in the first book, but when shadows begin to follow her, Brynn’s brother Conn goes missing, and the entire town of Jeffersonville seems to have lost its hold on reality, she must embrace her inner strength to help set everything right once again. Please see my full review here.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this story would be told from not only one but two perspectives that differ from the first book. While Brynn got the spotlight initially, Makayla has a lot to figure out about herself in the wake of the events of the first story. Though book one spans a relatively short amount of time and Brynn ends up navigating her adventure more or less on her own, this story offers a look at how teamwork and companionship can make things better for everyone.
While book one read like a video game to me, this second story felt more like a movie, incorporating different perspectives, locations, dynamic action sequences, and humor. The writing makes each of these moments easy to visualize, especially as relationships grow and develop among each of the characters. Once again, the well-chosen and occasionally complex vocabulary improve readers’ understanding of language while providing a compelling textual backdrop for the story.
This book is a riveting sequel, showcasing healthy relationships alongside a fantastic adventure. I highly recommend this series for early young adult readers, especially those who love a bit of a challenge. I’m so excited to read the finale!
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