Harper and Leigh are 14-year-old identical twins on a mission to find their father Chester, who was abducted from the Enchanted College of Oceania by Other World Magic.
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There was only the bell itself and the rope swinging back forth, back and forth. Silent and alone. Manchester Stuart Reynolds has vanished and no one, not Lydia, not the twins, or any other family members, has had the good fortune of seeing him since.
The women seemed to come out mainly at dusk, making it almost impossible to see the dark beauty of their expressions that would shift from one face to the other. On each of their left shoulders would perch one elegant and noble bird: a falcon; a hawk; a peregrine; and a nightingale. It was only when the wind rustled their feathers that you could tell they were alive.
There wasn't a description for the book when I bought it so I did a search and I found the Facebook page for the book which lists the website [...], and there's SO much stuff on the website. I think kids, teens and adults will love the site. It has profiles of some of the major characters, the first four chapters and an online blog/ newspaper for the twins' school The Academy of the Sacred Names.When do you EVER get to see African American teenage girls as the main characters in a fantasy? Or in any book really!? I've never read a book like this before!! It's really well written, and the characters are so diverse, there's a girl who had cancer as a child, a boy who has cerebral palsy, and a wide range of nationalities and ethnicities. I can see why the subtitle is An American Fairytale, because this really is a melting pot of people - it's very American. I really liked the fact that there is a multicultural cast but there weren't any stereotypes or stereotypical environments. The book is written in such a way that what the characters are is secondary to who they are, and that's one of the many things that I both liked and appreciated.So far there's been murder, kidnapping, romance and ghosts and I haven't finished it yet, but it's a page turner so I know I'll be done soon and be waiting for more! I have to say that I'm already really looking forward to the next book in the series!
As a busy professional who is constantly "on the go", having my Kindle books easily accessible makes it so easy for me to cope with flight delays and find an escape from the noise of airport traffic. I turn on my tablet, open a book and prepare to be transported to a world of fun and adventure! A world of fun and adventure is exactly what was waiting for me after a close friend told me about this fabulous new book that she referred to as "ECO" (The Enchanted Cottage of Oceania: An American Fairytale)! She told me this book was for teenagers and young adults, while also confessing that she had fallen hopelessly in love with an older male character in the book... "Xavier Montague", a rich, handsome, deliciously debonair gentleman who is in hot pursuit of Harper's and Leigh's mother, Lydia. I was laughing about the fact that a book written for Young Adults would have so much going on with the "more seasoned folks" like myself until I read it. It totally works! The main characters and all their friends are high school age, but there are some mature characters that are very interesting in their own right and they are what got me hooked on "ECO"!
I'm telling all of my girlfriends to buy this book, plan our next book club meeting around it, and have a "Spring Fling"! We can be fourteen again with the main characters, Harper and Leigh, as they fall in love and have one adventure after another, while still being our same fabulous forty and fifty year old selves, reading about our own version of a dream crush - Dr. Xavier Montague.Here's to love and good old-fashioned crushes!
I absolutely loved reading this book. I'm in my 20s, and I can tell you that this book didn't feel like young adult fiction. Teens will thoroughly enjoy it (I would have!), but its not written just for teens. It's a very "clean" novel, so I'm sure that it would be appropriate for the pre-teen crowd too (although the language may be elevated, but that's okay, a good flip through a dictionary never hurt anyone!), and I absolutely know that any adult who wants to take a trip back to 14-17 will love, love, love this book. And guys- don't be put off by the cover- this isn't just a "girl" book. I'm a girl, but there are great male roles in this story. Jeremy is just as essential to ECO as the twins are. Girls read books where there are male leads, or where the girl is definitely secondary to one or two main male characters, and I think that guys should give this book a try- I think they will be pleasantly surprised.
ECO has everything you look for in a good beach/airport/escape read: mystery, romance, and really hilarious moments. Harper's one-liners are a hoot, Leigh is so practical and her relationship with their mom is so adorable. But on a more serious note, it does deal with very real world issues in a tactful way, like the death of family members, how to handle mean spirited people in your class (I think you will find the twins teddy-cam operation a riot), is it okay to talk to strangers online, dating and even just "coming into your own" so to speak. Harper and Leigh grapple with real issues but in a very enjoyable way. In terms of their school (which is Catholic), Leigh is definitely the more religious of the two, and Harper isn't quite sure what to, or not to believe. Harper is definitely the one who questions systems and rules. Teenagers do think about these sorts of things, and it was interesting to see that in this kind of a story.
It's a modern coming of age story that blends teenage life with fantasy. I've read other books that try to create that blend too, and no matter how much I like the story I always feel like the normal adolescent side of the story is somehow forsaken- even just a little- for the fantasy plot line. For example, you're fourteen and have your first crush (remember that person? Okay you remember how all-consuming that was right? Phone convos with your friends about him/her, daydreaming about him/her...), but you're also supposed to be capturing ghosts for a spell that will you help you find your kidnapped father... most stories abandon or minimize the first plot line for the second, but not ECO. I can tell you that ghosts could have been screaming at me like crazed banshees but I totally would've found a way to run, scream and answer my crush's text message about the dance or whatever simultaneously too.
For the first time I've felt like I can really see myself in a book! I can completely relate to the main characters Harper and Leigh- we have such a similar background... suburban upbringing with a longing for adventure. Unlike the twins I never went to an all girls catholic high school, but if I could go back to high school (given the hilarious goings-on at the Academy of the Sacred Names, from The Royals to Sacristy)- I might just give it a try. The authors are great at describing the settings- so much so that I actually want to visit them- Oceania, Marbury and Somerset aren't real places in MD, but I wish that they were!
There is a lot going on here to keep you interested. The story is an interesting mix of fantasy and sci fi that works for both YA and general fiction. A lot of fun.
Fantastic read. I can't wait for the next book.