Weird things began to happen, Tina noticed, right after the explosion in the subway. Stuff was disappearingY_ordinary things like the closet doorknob and Tina's best sneakers, highly improbable ones like the kitchen linoleum, and most amazing of all, the great bronze statue of King Jagiello in Central Park.The three punky guys who kept turning up, with their chains and wrist straps and jackets lettered Prince of Darkness across the back, were obviously part of the terror. But it wasn't until Tina met the old street fiddler Paavo that she understood the menace that threatened the city and her own role in the terrifying struggle that lay ahead as an evil power from another dimension challenged her world.Here is a brilliant and compelling fantasy, which builds irresistibly from its everyday beginnings at a subway station on Manhattan's West Side to an epic battle in Central Park. Music and magic conspire together as Tina, her new friend Joel, and the ancient wizard Paavo join forces to defeat an awesome enemy.The Valentine Marsh Series: THE BRONZE KING, THE SILVER GLOVE, THE GOLDEN THREADSuzy McKee Charnas is a multiple award-winning YA and fantasy author.
Suzy McKee Charnas, a native New Yorker raised and educated in Manhattan, surfaced as an author with WALK TO THE END OF THE WORLD (1974), a no-punches-pulled feminist SF novel and Campbell award finalist. The three further books that sprang from WALK (comprising a futurist, feminist epic about how people make history and create myth) closed in 1999 with THE CONQUEROR’S CHILD, a Tiptree winner (as is the series in its entirety).
Meanwhile, she taught for two years in Nigeria with the Peace Corps, married, and moved to New Mexico, where she has lived, taught, and written fiction and non-fiction for forty five years. She teaches SF from time to time, and travels every year to genre conventions around the country and (occasionally) around the world.
Her varied SF and fantasy works have also won the Hugo award, the Nebula award, the Gigamesh Award (Spain), and the Mythopoeic award for Young-Adult fantasy. A play based on her novel THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY has been staged on both coasts. STAGESTRUCK VAMPIRES (Tachyon Books) collects her best short fiction, plus essays on writing feminist SF and on seeing her play script first become a professionally staged drama in San Francisco. Currently, she’s working at getting all of her work out in e-book, audio, and other formats, and moving several decades’ worth of manuscripts, correspondence, etc. out of a slightly leaky garage and sent off to be archived at the University of Oregon Special Collections. She has two cats and a gentleman boarder (also a cat), good friends and colleagues, ideas for new work, and travel plans for the future.
Valentine Marsh is a savvy young girl living in New York City with her divorced working mother. She leads a fairly ordinary life of going to school, shopping for groceries, now and then cooking for her late-working mother, greeting her doorman, riding the subway and all that. She also reads about heroes and goes to the opera. Her friends are starting to be interested in boys. Then one day things start disappearing. Things near and around her. Small things and then big things. Then a really big thing, a whole, huge bronze statue of a Polish King from right out of the park. Meanwhile, three menacing large thugs with jackets that read The Demon Princes begin to stalk her and almost trap her until a strange thin old man appears playing a violin and whisks her into an amazing adventure to save the world!
POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW
Suzy McKee Charnas' love of music and opera shine through in this book, but not in an over-arty way, so no one run for the theater exits. This is a book written for and from the prospective of the Young Adult audience - meaning teenagers. There's a strange combination of the naive young girl and the world-wise New Yorker in Valentine that seems to be the special birthright of the children of that city. She is a little more mature than the young boy she teams up with to solve this problem. It was an interesting twist that she got to be the hero while he had to cool his heels. His ego, however cannot take a back seat and so they part afterwards. I can't help but think this is his loss. I was touched by the gentle scene of her Grandmother and the Fiddler meeting after all the years. In a way this is a little like the older generation and the younger in The Magic Flute, but on a much more benign and healthy footing. Well done!
Intelligently written and surprisingly deep in spots for a middle-grade book. I especially loved Paavo and Granny Gran. Probably for their quirks and eccentricities. Oh, and this bit sprinkled in near the end was just right:
"Hey, did you ever hear of such a thing as a human being? A human being, you know, a person? I'm one of those, though I happen to be a female-type human being. That means I do things myself like anybody else, even if they happen to be dangerous things. Which I'd better be able to do, too, because there isn't always going to be some guy around to take care of it for me..."
I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Sorcery Hall Trilogy.
There are a number of things to like about this short YA novel. It has the interesting conceit that certain buildings and monuments protect earth from invasion by some sort of extraterrestrial (if not extradimensional) force or monster, called a kraken, which wants to destroy the earth. One of them is the statue of King Jagiello in Central Park. When it disappears, New York City and the whole planet are in grave danger. A young girl, her often senile grandmother, another old wizard masquerading as a violin busker, and a boy violinist are the only people aware of the danger. It's up to them to save the world.
There's conflict of the protagonist with her single mother, but it's clear they love each other. There are issues with friends and cliques and trying to figure out feelings about boys (and men!). There's also a boy feeling like he has to save the girl instead of vice versa - that feels very dated somehow, but this book is almost 40 years old.
You can tell that the author knows and loves New York and also knows that it's dangerous.
I enjoyed it enough to finish it, but will not keep it. There are so many good books (thank God) and space is limited.
It's pretty clean, though it does get into romantic feelings and kids making nasty accusations about each other. The girl flagrantly disobeys her mother, but I think saving the world justifies this and in the end the mother agrees. There's some good stuff about grief.
I have just discovered there are sequels. I might read them if I get a chance. The Sorcery Hall idea is interesting.
Refreshing to read YA fantasy with female mc. Slightly dated (from 1985) as there are pay phones and letter writing and not omnipresent cell phones. HAVING SAID THAT this is a good book of fantasy, with quest, with a female mc that is allowed to be female, flawed, and successful. And the boy in the book calls her on it and she calls him a macho pig. A victory as great as the one in the book.
I'd never read this middle-grade contemporary fantasy before, and have to say even though it's a tiny bit dated, it's still a great New York City adventure with a smart, forthright, and realistic young female protagonist. I would have loved it at that age and liked it fine at this one. I look forward to reading the next two in the series
This is not your typical fantasy book that takes place on another world with dwarves and elves. This book's setting is in modern times in New York City. The reason The Bronze King is a fantasy book for young adults is because the story revolves around a young girl just coming into magical powers that she inherited from her grandmother.
This is a good story not only for girl readers, but for boys also. I have not read a lot of books with 14 year-old girls as the hero, and I was a little trepidatious about doing so, but I found that I quite enjoyed Tina as the main character. Paavo was interesting and I would have liked to learn more about him.
The weakest point in this book is character development. You really don't get to know a lot about the characters and a lot of questions are left unanswered. This story is basically your typical end of the world scenario and there is only one person that can prevent it from happening (sounds like a lot of episodes I saw in the television series of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer").
Overall, this is a good story for someone looking to ease their way into the fantasy genre. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next book, The Silver Glove.
I remembered loving this book as a preteen, so I reread it recently. Although certain aspects have held up - the feminist message, the portrayal of New York city in the eighties, the magical elements, the overall story - but others are problematic, and this book deserves an honest critique.
First of all, the take on race is... not good. The main character describes an African-American friend of hers as changing her hairstyle, speaking "street black"(WTF?) and hanging out with other AA people who apparently "hate" white people. Not a terribly enlightened take for a character who supposedly grew up in one of the most diverse cities in the world.
Then there's the fact that the main character falls in love with a man old enough to be her grandfather (at least), and he not only reciprocates but doesn't see any problem with it, and the girl's grandmother doesn't see anything wrong with it at all either. Just like, "Oh, you're in love with some dude who was in love with me back in the day? Well, he's just so charming, who could possibly resist?" (I paraphrase slightly.)
tl;dr the bones are good, but the flesh has some definite weak spots.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This is the first of a good YA fantasy trilogy in which teen Val Marsh becomes entangled in a series of encounters with dark magic, through her grandmother's connection with the magic club or school called Sorcery Hall. I like Charnas's good teenage characterization, particularly in Val's relationship with her mother, and I like how through the course of the trilogy, Val slowly comes to depend on herself rather than on others. I find the Sorcery Hall concept more distracting than anything else, though, since you never really learn anything about it; it's just this presence that's occasionally mentioned and never elaborated on. Everything else in the books pretty much makes up for that small niggle, though.
I can't really explain completely why I love this book so much. It is also the first book that I read more than once on my own, without someone making me. Its Fantasy, the characters seem real, and it has action without being too overly dramatic. Also, I just like it, because I do. It's also one of those for me.
What an unexpected delight. This is a truly excellent piece of urban fantasy. Incredible voice, strong characters, satisfying ending, just enough bittersweet. Everything you want. I picked it out blind from a discount rack of used books, and I'm so glad I did.