Tuesday, June 26, 2012

PJ Marsden - Amelia, the Monkey, and the Magic Bag

Amelia, the Monkey, and the Magic Bag

By PJ Marsden

Kindle Edition Available 

Product Description (from Amazon) 

Fantasy adventure for YA/10+   .

Amelia's uncles, aunts and cousins are different from ordinary folk, as they come from another world. So when the family arrives for a holiday visit, strange and exciting things start to happen.

But it gets more serious when invaders from a sinister under-world start sneaking in, and it's up to the family to stop them. There are many twists and turns, many dangers to face and many enemies to outwit, before Amelia can take her rightful place in the promised world Beyond.

If you like a non-stop adventure with lots of exotic characters, clever animals and secret identities, as well as magic, mystery and danger... if you like a long thrilling read, then this is the book for you.

About the Author (from Amazon)

I love reading books that take me to strange places, real or imagined, and when I started writing I found that my pen was taking me far away too.

But whatever the setting, some things are constant, like love and fear and courage, and these are also present in the worlds I'd like to share with you.

My first two novels have been republished as Kindle eBooks, and I'm currently busy on my third.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

Amelia caught me off guard, I was expecting a much shorter story and nowhere near complex.  But the book was neither short nor simple.  It was delightfully complex, and did a wonderful job of telling the WHOLE story.  It even has a brilliant conclusion, enough of a puzzle in case a second book should be written, but enough closure to make you feel it was solid and complete.

Amelia is a delightful girl, plenty of spunk and tons of courage, but she still respects those around her, showing love and care for all.  Amelia is the core character, but you also get to know her mom really well too, and both are a huge mystery.

There is magic in this book – but each person has a certain type of magic, and each world’s magic is different from the next, with lower worlds having darker magic or no magic.  Amelia lives in London with her mother and her father, although at school, she has no father listed.  Her father comes from Above.  Her mother is a mystery, one that will unfold as the book progresses – but is never quite solved.

Every summer, Amelia’s family comes to a cottage (a very large cottage) where all of  the aunts and uncles and cousins come and spend several weeks together.  During the preparation for their trip, Takers show up, and the family makes a brief stop inside Above and Beyond, where Amelia finds a cute monkey.  It follows her when they return to the train.

This year, Amelia turns nine and that is very special in this family – for that is when the children are assigned their names.  Not just any name, but a name that defines their magic ... except that Amelia shows absolutely no color or talent at all.  This summer is different in another way as well, for the Grandmother Purple is coming to her party, and so is cousin Herbert.

It is through Herbert’s mischief that her color shows itself, the day of her party – she’s a silver! and that means she can talk to animals.  But Grandmother makes a startling discovery during the party, as she watches Amelia place all of her presents into her small hand bag.  It is a magic hand bag, and very rare, everything that is put inside will fit, and it still will weigh nothing more than the bag.

The next morning, she sees Herbert sneaking around, and it isn’t long before things start to go very wrong.  The tunnel appears to be collapsing – and everyone packs and leaves in a huge hurry.  Amelia and her mother plan to wait for her father ... but end up sneaking back to London the next morning.  They are cut off from everyone – including the father.

Nearly three years pass ... and strange things start to happen.  First, Amelia accidentally uses her father’s purple pen in her diary to her aunt ... and the aunt writes back giving her advice, but runs out of ink before the sentence is finished.  There is a sinister plan afoot, and Amelia may hold a key part.

Help is found in the most unlikely place, and suddenly everything is bumped into high gear – the 3 years are nearly up – Down Under and the Takers are gaining more and more control of London and Above and Beyond.  Who is behind it?  Who can they turn to for help, and who is the enemy?

The story slowed a tiny bit in the middle, while they were stuck waiting for something to happen.   But the action never stops, twists and turns and surprises await at every new chapter.   I was sorry to see the book end, it was such an enchanting story – a great early fantasy book for children – lots of action, but not too scary.  It is a very clean story – well developed plot and characters – and believable conversations and action.  Lots of silliness balances the tension nicely.

A delightful story for young and old alike, perfect for an advanced reader, or as a read aloud for bedtime or snuggling afternoons.  I really liked that Amelia was a respectful child, and not a brat as is so common in stories today.  I wouldn’t mind if my child brought Amelia home as a friend – and in the pages of this book, you will soon feel as if she is your friend.

Note:  I would not have a problem with my 7 year old son reading, or listening to this book, although I’m pretty sure that some of the characters will be rather disturbing to him.   Reading level is mid 3rd to 4th grade, but it is a long book at 284 pgs.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Children, Family, Adventure,
Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school  (Age 10 +)
Profanity:  LOW - few mildly offensive words  (there are a smattering of words that a few will find distasteful)
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
Other:   The flat faced “Takers” are as violent as this book gets.  But that can be pretty scary – as the name suggests.  Also, the people from “under” are not pleasant characters either.

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