Title: Scotland’s Guardians
Author: Katharina Gerlach
Year published: 2013
Number of pages: 216
Recommended age: 10+
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
This story is about a girl named Bryanna who has to become a Guardian between the magical world of Alba and Earth. After her father is kidnapped, she is magically transported to Alba where she comes across a number of mythical creatures such as red caps, brownies, hobgoblins, kelpies, faeries, and selkies among others. She meets up with a girl her own age, Kaylee, who helps her along her voyage to rescue her father. But, many of those who help them along the way warn Bryanna that Kaylee, whom she grows closer to with each passing day, will betray her. Will Bryanna’s faith in her new friend change the course of her destiny to become the next Guardian?
My Thoughts: Scotland’s Guardians is a suspenseful, adventure-filled journey featuring a variety of mythical and legendary creatures. Bryanna, a young girl living in Scotland knows there is something different about her as she begins seeing and conversing with a hobgoblin in her childhood. After her mother mysteriously disappears and her father is kidnapped, she slips into the magical land of Alba and discovers that she is destined to become the next Guardian between the two worlds. Unfortunately, this comes at a very high cost – the death of her father.
There is plenty of action and suspense in this thriller. The action begins in the very first chapter when Bryanna encounters her first mythical creature, the boobrie (a mythical giant bird), while riding the bus. She then goes on to meet mythical characters and creatures throughout the entire book such as redcaps (which I had never heard of), hobgoblins, selkies, faeries, kelpies, Cailleach (the Goddess of winter and wild animals), among others. Can I just say thank goodness for the pronunciation guide at the back of the book for all these Gaelic words!? My only issue is that sometimes I felt that new creatures were thrown in just to be included. For example, the section on selkies was underdeveloped compared to some of the other sections. That being said, it was kind of fun to see what the girls would encounter next on their journey.
The main character of Bryanna and the relationship she had with her duplicitous friend Kaylee, who was torn between her loyalty to her friend and her loyalty to her father, was very well written. It was very interesting to see their relationship develop and morph as the story went on. I have to admit that I never knew for sure until the very end, how the relationship would play out. One of the major themes of the book was the exploration of familial bonds, friendship, and loyalty. All of these bonds are stretched to the limit in this story creating an engaging and suspenseful (albeit somewhat complex) plotline.
As with one of the last “middle grade” books we reviewed, Quests of Shadowind by L.A. Miller, I feel that this book is probably more appropriate for adolescents. (She says after she let her 10 year old daughter read it!) I say this for the complexity of the plot as well as some of the language used in the book. I was dismayed to see the words “slut” and “bitch” used in this book when I feel it was completely unnecessary. It even shocked my daughter who literally came to tell me about it just after she read that part.
One final word as a note to all middle grade authors: Interestingly, my daughter and I noticed right away as we flipped the book open that the word density is very high (i.e., there are a high number of words per page, the font size is small, and there are small spaces between lines). My daughter’s immediate reaction was to say that she wasn’t going to read it. I encouraged her to start anyways and because the story starts quickly she ended up reading the whole thing and loving it (see her review below). However, if my daughter was in a bookstore or at the library choosing a book, she would have passed right by this one simply because of word density.
My bottom line: I must say I have mixed feelings about this book because one the one hand, there is rich character development, there are many elements of fantasy and folklore that are very entertaining, and the story itself is engaging. On the other hand, I found the plot to be quite complex and the pace was a bit uneven in some places. Overall though, I did enjoy reading the book and my daughter also loved it so I would set the age recommendation as 10+ years and say that fantasy lovers will also enjoy this one.
1. Who is main character and what did you think of her? Bryanna is the main character. She’s about 12 I think. Another major character in the book is Kaylee. I couldn’t tell if she was good or evil until the end. There were also lots of cool mythical creatures like hobgoblins, red caps, boobries, and kelpies. My favorite creature was the hobgoblin – they were cool.
2. What was your favorite part of the book? I liked that there were lots of different kinds of creatures that were legendary. I didn’t think any of them were too scary.
3. Was there anything you didn’t like about the book? I didn’t like that they said a few bad words like the “b-word” and an “s-word”. I think the book would have been better without those words, and better for younger kids especially.
4. What do you think of the cover of the book? I like the cover of the book, but I don’t understand why their hair is sticking up.
5. Overall, how did you like the book? I thought this book was really awesome – loved it!
6. Who do you think would like this book? I think girls 8 years and older would like this book especially those who like reading about magic and magical creatures.
Daughter Rating: ★★★★★
*** This book was provided to us free-of-charge by the author exchange for an honest review.***
About The Author (Amazon):
Katharina Gerlach was born in Germany in 1968. She and her three younger brothers grew up in the middle of a forest in the heart of the Luneburgian Heather. After romping through the forest with imagination as her guide, the tomboy learned to read and disappeared into magical adventures, past times or eerie fairytale woods.
She didn’t stop at reading. During her training as a landscape gardener, she wrote her first novel, a manuscript full of a beginner’s mistakes. Fortunately, she found books on Creative Writing and soon her stories improved. For a while, reality interfered with her writing but after finishing a degree in forestry and a PhD in Science she returned to her vocation. She likes to write Fantasy, Science Fiction and Historical Novels for all age groups.
At present, she is writing at her next project in a small house near Hildesheim, Germany, where she lives with her husband, three children and a dog.
Please visit http://www.katharinagerlach.com/ for more information on Katharina Gerlach and Scotland’s Guardians.