Cybils Awards, here are my thoughts on The Ruins of Noe, by Danika Dinsmore (Hydra House, 2012, middle grade/YA, 253 pages).
This is the second book about a young faery, Brigitta, who, after harrowing adventures described in Brigitta of the White Forest, is now apprentice to High Priestess Ondelle. Things are not well in the White Forest--the Ancient Ones, who visit newborns and set their destinies in motion, and who free faery spirits after death, seem to have withdrawn, and so Ondelle and Brigitta, who is implicated in a prophecy, set off to the ancestral homeland of Noe to try to set things right.
There in Noe they encounter two warring clans of faeries, living miserably beneath the rule of two terrible tyrants. When Ondelle is captured and rendered powerless, it's up to Brigitta to not only save her, and return home safely, but to set right the wrongs she encounters. Fortunately, she makes allies among the disaffected faeries of Noe, and even more fortuitously, two ancient, dragon-like beings have been watching through the centuries for their foreordained opportunity to help. So all ends well.
It's a complicated story, densely populated with (perhaps too many) faeries. It was hard for me to keep track of who was who, and because action takes precedence over the development of the secondary characters, it was hard to know who I should care about, and I ended up being disappointed that I didn't care as much as I would have liked about any of them by the end of the book. I was also slightly disappointed that the ancient dragon-like creatures, introduced in the prologue, had a somewhat anticlimactic role in setting things right.
Yet Brigitta herself is a character to cheer for, the setting and adventures are interesting enough to keep the reader absorbed, and Dinsmore raises interesting questions of free will vs destiny.
The Ruins of Noe takes Brigitta toward YA territory--her concerns are becoming more those of a teenager, and there is a hint (a very small one) of romance. Still, despite some violence, this, like it's predecessor, is still book that I think would be best enjoyed by the eleven to thirteen year old reader.
Other thoughts at:
Clockwork Reviews -- "Danika Dinsmore outdoes herself in the crafting of this new book. All of the elements that made Brigitta
wonderful continue on in this book. It is still just as magical and
engaging as the first book, exploring the trials and struggles of the
now adolescent protagonist."
Close Encounters of the Night Kind -- "This story was amazing and the world itself was well imagined and
incredibly creative. This book will take you on an amazing journey
through the growth of a very lovable and unassuming character."
Rise Reviews-- "Dinsmore did an excellent job at keeping me hooked, and sometimes even panicked, by the tale she wove."
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher for Cybils consideration