From the author of The Vampire Diaries, are a pair of books about four siblings–Alys the responsible none, Janie the intelligent one, Charles the laid back one, and Claudia the baby of the family (and I don’t mean crybaby)–who are called upon to help the sorceress Morgana Shee.
In the Night of the Solstice, they are called to service by a talking vixen to help Morgana Shee when she is taken captive. Morgana is the Guardian of the Mirrors, a passageway between the magical Wildworld and our non-magical world (called StillWorld). If she isn’t back by the winter solstice, the passageway will open for anyone to get through and an evil sorcerer will be able to come to StillWorld where he intends to enslave and ruin civilization.
In book two, Heart of Valor, we get to learn more about Morgana’s history (which is nicely mixed with history and legend), picking up where about a year after book one left off. We get to see how things have changed (and how things haven’t) since the kids’ last adventure. The villain is both someone we’ve seen before and someone new. (I don’t want to go into too much detail with this book’s plot because I don’t want to give away too much of book one.)
Unlike Smith’s other books, this is not a love story (which I am glad for). There are a lot of things I really liked about this book, the writing in particular is pretty solid. The story flows really well and you can’t help but find yourself engrossed. Some characters are more relate-able and three-dimensional than others (Alys and Janie are both very distinct and go through obvious growth while Charles and Claudia don’t actually mature very much over the course of the book), but all are interesting enough to hold my attention.
The only thinking lacking for me was some of the more in depth explanations about magic. It felt like there were things we should have learned but never did (like the rules of magic, how one goes about winning a staff, how WildWorld actually runs) and perhaps, if Smith ever intends to write another book, we will learn more. I can only hope she does because I really enjoyed it and would gladly read a third book.