The Queen and the Dagger
Book of Theo
This is an excellent, richly-imagined short book for older children/younger teens, combining elements of fantasy, myth, and storytelling tradition. The reader remains fully immersed in the world from the first sentence. Editing is impeccable. There’s nothing to distract you from the well-paced storyline.
The characters are unique and carefully drawn. No one is perfect, but each has her own merits. The plot is true epic fantasy, a great introduction to swordplay, quest, and chosen-one themes that run throughout contemporary adult fantasy works. Pacing is steady, with no dead spots. The setting is unique and familiar, yet alien at the same time. It will feel most familiar to children graduating from elementary anthropomorphic animal stories to more advanced chapter books and novels. There are betrayal, danger, and personality clashes as well as fellowship and alliance. It has a Lion King-feel to it, of fate and inevitability not wholly under the control of the actors.
After finishing this book (in one sitting!) I immediately checked for more in the series. This is one I’d like to follow. It brought me back to the childhood tales I loved to read, yet it was sufficiently advanced for adult readers. Recommended for just about anybody.