Sunday, April 5, 2020

Spring Reading 2020 The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray

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"After saving the world, Gwendolyn might have expected some kind of "happily ever after." But...things seemed to be worse than ever. It was not the end to her story that she'd expected."   Gwendolyn returns home and finds that her efforts are being undermined and that the Faceless Men are after her once again. She sets off on another round of adventure that lands her in the realm of Oberon and Titania, in the company of the legendary inventor, Cyria Kytain. (It turns out that the legends were a bit wrong on a few details.) Gwendolyn must find her missing friends, Sparrow and Starling, deal with the mischievous faerie Robin, and try to find a weapon to defeat the power behind the Faceless Men.

But there are some really fun parts, too. Discovering the Library of All Wonder is a treat, with its rows and rows of shelves and book carts that can move themselves and even climb stairs. There are the beautiful faerie parties and clothing, battles with pirates, clockwork gadgets, spells... So I suppose the good and the bad balance out, enough that Gwendolyn can get on with saving the world again, anyway.

Titania's realm is a completely different setting than Tohk, and the library itself is a truly wondrous place. Gwendolyn and the other characters have done some growing and maturing, so there are shifts in the relationships from the previous book. The typical angst of moving into the teenage years and wondering about whether one is liked, or loved, is mixed into the struggle with the powers that hold the city in such a grey dreary state.

A word of warning to those whose patrons are uncomfortable with characters who behave outside strictly hetero-normative bounds. Robin is a gender fluid faerie who presents as either Puck Robin (feminine) or Robin Goodfellow (masculine), as they choose. And Cyria Kytain laughs at being referred to as a man in the legends. "Of course, the tales of my many wives may have had something to do with it..." she says.

Those who read Gwendolyn's first book will be delighted to see her back in action and having new experiences as she continues in her efforts to liberate her home. If you haven't read The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray yet, try to find a copy. I know they have one in the Library of All Wonder, but they may also be found closer to home.

I read an e-book provided for review purposes by the publisher. 

P.S. I love the cover art showing Gwendolyn with one foot in the Library and one in the realm of Faeoria.

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