rachel's Reviews > The Hollow Bettle

The Hollow Bettle by Susannah Appelbaum
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's review
Feb 12, 10

bookshelves: 2010, own, kid-lit, sci-fi-fantasy
Read from February 07 to 12, 2010

I don't read a lot of middle grade fantasy (and have a lackluster response to even that boy wizard) but the poisoning angle of this one looked cool and the opening paragraph is a hook. Overall, The Hollow Bettle turned out to be a decent beginning to a new series with enough delightful moments of magic to impress.

I had some trouble getting into it at first, because it takes Appelbaum a good 50 pages to tame her precocious, high vocabulary style into a flow. For that reason, I'm not really sure what age level this is aimed at. At work, we have it shelved in the teen section, but the tame subject matter and especially the age of the main character (11) seems much more likely to appeal to younger kids. Yet I also can't imagine quite a few younger kids reading the first few chapters with ease and interest, since even I as an adult (who, it must be said, overuses multisyllabic adverbs and adjectives in her own writing) stumbled to get into a reading groove.

That being said, there is a lot to recommend to this book that readers of any age would enjoy. Appelbaum's story, while definitely not original -- Prophecy of the Noble Child, anyone? -- moves along at a quick pace with enough tense moments to keep the reader interested. All of the villains are colorful characters, especially the Queen. Appelbaum's best writing comes when she's describing plant life and behavior; what happens at the end with wall tapestries is marvelous. You know how sometimes one scene or detail delights you so much that it makes you feel OK about spending nearly $20 on a single book? Yeah, that moment did it for me.

I think I will probably read the next book in the series when it comes out. Now that the world of Caux is established, it will be interesting to see how its inhabitants are developed.

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Reading Progress

02/11/2010 page 126
31.58% "Got off to a slow start, but it's starting to pick up now. I love the queen and hope she has a big part in the rest of the story."
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