Monday Book Recs—Claws by Rachel and Mike Grinti and Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

Claws by Rachel and Mike Grinti

This may sound like a typical middle grade about a girl who can bond with animals and has to stop the fairies from stealing her older sister. But there is both more fun here and more warmth than I expected. The fun is with the cats that are Emma’s pride, all with distinct personalities and motivations. The warmth is in the relationships with her father and mother and her sister. Even the “villain” characters at the elementary school where Emma is tormented for her magic turn out to be not-all-bad, and Emma’s kindness in looking out for them really touched me. The plot is quick-paced and clear. I especially loved the Rats. So inventive that I am still thinking of them.

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

I finished this book in one day, which says a lot considering my current schedule. I have to say that the thing that really pushed my buttons was the history. When I was a teen, the history of Colonial America and its relationship to the British Isles was just something I obsessed over again and again. I loved Arthur stories. I loved Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots. I loved Walter Raleigh and even King Henry VIII. I also really liked the real, scary stories that came from those first years of colonization. And yes, I was eternally intrigued by Roanoke. I had my own theories about what happened to the people there (hurricane was one of them, also alien abduction). I am so glad that another author got to write about all the details like John Dee, the magician to Queen Elizabeth’s court who was quite a shady figure, and alchemy, whihc was essentially looking for the secret to immortality, and everything else. So delicious.

But I suppose you could mess up those wonderful elements. Gwenda Bond doesn’t. The front story, which is set in the present day, is just as interesting. A girl (Miranda Blackwood) whose father has a twisting snake tattoo/birthmark on his face, who then dies/is murdered and the scar transfers to Miranda. So many fun, creepy details about his death (won’t ruin them all), including the disappearance of 114 people in the modern day. What would really happen if that kind of story broke? I think she’s got realistic details right here, and the other story, about Phillips Rawlings, who is dealing with an ancient family gift of hearing the voices of the dead, and who has spent several years off the island masquerading as a juvenile delinquent, purely to get away from those voices. I loved it especially when Miranda tries to get off the island.

I was a little late getting to this book, but it’s a grand read!