Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Curses! Foiled Again
Curses! Foiled Again is the cleverly titled sequel to Foiled, wherein Aliera, a high school student, competitive fencer, and our heroine, finds out she has become the guardian of the faeries on Earth. Also, she has learned that Avery, her cute, popular lab partner, is actually a troll. Literally. That much gets tidily summed up at the start of this volume, where we learn that Aliera's new guardian role is attracting all kinds of unwanted attention. First it comes from Avery, who is beholden to her for saving his life, and second from Baba Yaga, the fearsome witch from Russian folklore.
As the story progresses, there are many twists and turns. It becomes unwise to trust appearances because some seeming allies are anything but, and help comes from some unlikely places. There is also a soap opera quality to the characters' relationships that makes for some convoluted drama and intrigue.
This book is a collaboration between Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro. Yolen is a huge figure in children's and YA literature in the past century, having authored more than 300 books and won multiple awards and accolades. Her most famous works are probably Wizard's Hall, Owl Moon, and The Devil's Arithmetic. Yolen spoke about her work on this volume in this interview with the School Library Journal.
Cavallaro has been making comics since the 1990s and he is known for his work on Parade (with fireworks), The Life and Times of Savior 28, and more recently books starring Batman and Superman for younger readers. He has a clear, bold storytelling style that propels this tale of warriors and fantasy creatures briskly. I also like his depictions of the various magical creatures, including witches, faeries, and trolls. He gives them fun details and expressions. Also, the way they are colored makes them pop on the page.
Reviews I have read about this book have been positive but measured. Kirkus Reviews gave it high marks, stating "the book offers a lot of fast-paced fairy-tale fun, and Aliera is both admirable and easy to relate to for her fierceness and foibles." Eric Henrickson enjoyed the first book but wrote that he found "there’s too much yelling and not enough story in this one," which left him disappointed. The teen reviewer at Publishers Weekly had mostly praise for the book, "The story line has heart and intelligence, and Yolen successfully weds faerie lore to cinema-style plot twists; the only weak spot is the occasionally clunky dialogue."
A preview and more is available here from the publisher First Second.
Thank you to Gina for the review copy!