The Serpent's Egg
Reviewed: April 26, 2005
By: J. Fitzgerald McCurdy
Publisher: Saratime Publishing Inc.
279 pages, $13.95
I bet you didn't
know that there was an entrance to another world just under the
Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Maybe you guessed as much, based on
the behavior we often see from those chambers, but you didn't
know just how deep the problem ran.
Neither did Miranda
D'arte. But then, there was a lot Miranda didn't know.
She didn't know, for instance that a rift in space/time had
opened in the Gatineau Hills and that a most malevolent demon who
simply went by the name of Hate had emerged there.
Nor did she know that
Hate had brought some minions with her, creatures known as Thugs, and
that these creatures were headed Miranda's way with one simple
set of instructions: FIND THE GIRL AND KILL HER!
All the warning
Miranda had was a bad dream in which she was just inches away from
being captured by something so awful it was only a matter of
seconds before she felt the terror's sharp claws ripping
through her spine.”
Her mother, a
psychiatrist, dismisses her daughter's fears, but doesn't
tell Miranda that she hasn't been entirely honest with her,
even about such important matters as what really happened to her
father. Dr. D'arte disappears from the story shortly after
thinking, "Let it be a coincidence. Don't let them find
Miranda is a bright
grade four student, but she has a lot of trouble with a particularly
nasty teacher named Mr. Little, a man we could easily see becoming
more important to this story when the sequel comes into print. At
this point he merely seems to be the worst problem that Miranda has,
which just goes to show how little she really knows about trouble.
On the last day of
school before Spring Break, Miranda faces a much needed skiing
vacation, until Little sentences her to return with a large portion
of the telephone directory copied out as a punishment. As it turns
out, Miranda doesn't get to do either activity.
That night Miranda and
her friends Arabella, Nick and Penelope find themselves stalked by a
Thug, and rescued by Naim, a mysterious Druid (one of the five), who
has come to keep Miranda safe, something he can only manage to do by
spiriting her away to another world, the entrance to which is beneath
the cliffs on which the Houses of Parliament are located.
The other world is
Bethany. Miranda has connections there that she does not know about,
and abilities that she has never been trained to use. During much of
what follows she will have to trust her instincts over her reason in
order to focus the powers of the bloodstones, powerful talismans that
only she can use.
Along the way to a
final confrontation with Hate, the companions, joined by elves and
dwarves, have to face Trolls, Wobbles, a Dragon and other perils, as
well as keep from doing anything irretrievably disastrous themselves.
One of them almost fails that test.
Egg reads a bit like an updated version of the Narnia stories,
without the overt Christianity of Lewis' books. While the kids
seem a little too old for the ages they are supposed to be, this is
often the case in this sort of novel. There is usually one child who
has a lot more growing to do than the others, and Penelope fills that
bill quite nicely, being something of a pint sized Cordelia Chase
With that comparison
comes the idea that this little group of elementary school students
does bear a slight resemblance to the Scoobie Gang in some ways,
whether you mean the Scoobie Doo gang from the cartoons, or the older
group from the Buffy the Vampire series. Despite the objections of
the older and wiser heads who try to keep Miranda's companions
out of harm's way, they come to function as a unit, and their
strengths and weaknesses compliment each other. They are more
successful together than any of them could be alone.
This book could have
been a stand-alone fantasy, but McCurdy uses the very last paragraph
of the book to set up a sequel. There were some other indications
that this might happen, but that last paragraph clinches it.
While it is intended
for the young teen crowd, this is an enjoyable little book for those
who like the genre and it's very nice to see things happening
on real Canadian turf again.