Read: May 2020
Author: Claire Legrand
Genre: Children’s Fantasy / YA Fantasy
Length: 480 pgs (hardcover) | 10h 29m (audio)
Selected By: BillMo
Twelve-year-old Quicksilver lives as a thief in the sleepy town of Willow-on-the-River. Her only companions are her faithful dog and partner in crime, Fox, and Sly Boots, the shy boy who lets her live in his attic when it’s too cold to sleep on the rooftops. It’s a lonesome life, but Quicksilver is used to being alone. When you are alone, no one can hurt you. No one can abandon you.
Then one day Quicksilver discovers that she can perform magic. Real magic. The kind that isn’t supposed to exist anymore. Magic is forbidden, but Quicksilver nevertheless wants to learn more. With real magic, she could become the greatest thief who ever lived. She could maybe even find her parents. What she does find, however, is much more complicated and surprising…
I was contemplating giving this book 2 or 3 teacups. I was going to start this book review off telling you to have the tune of Should I Stay or Should I Go in your head when you read, “Should I give it a 2 or give it a 3 now”. However, one, you already know my score because it’s at the beginning before you start reading the review, two that is way too many syllables to make that little ditty work, and three there is only one teacup up there.
They had been taught all their lives to be suspicious of the unusual.
I really thought I would like this book more than I did but I just didn’t. My heart was not in it. I started out a strong 3 but alas it did not last. It was a fast read and I felt like the author wrote it well I just felt hollow inside as I read it. I liked the beginning where Quicksilver starts off in the orphanage and meets her dog Fox. I didn’t particularly care for the time traveling and meeting her older self. I did like that in a world full of magic your “monster” which is an animal can talk. I didn’t like that Fox referred to Quicksilver as master. There was also something that didn’t sit right with me that a witch can only work magic while having a familiar in this story. To me Quicksilver just thought of what she wanted to do and then Fox did all the heavy lifting. I would have rather them both be able to perform magic together? Yep that question mark was on purpose. I just wanted something more.
As Sisters Gerta and Marketta dragged Girl to Mother Petra’s office, she thought bitterly about how quickly the sisters appeared when she did something wrong, and how they were nowhere to be found when others wronged her.
I think I would have liked it better had our little heroine, who was twelve, not acted so much like a twelve year old broken girl. She was selfish, bossy, and non-compliant a lot. She did grow and become less selfish. I did feel really bad at the end of this book. I won’t tell you why but it was sad. It made me sad. I am sad writing this review and I don’t think I will read anymore from this author. I could picture this book being recreated into a movie like James and the Giant Peach. I could see Tim Burton directing this with some gruesome nasty little unicorns running around. I might watch knowing if they stuck to the book I might die a little.
Throwing and smashing things was much preferable to snotty crying.
Well, until next time.
BillMo’s Favorite Character(s): Fox. He reminded me of Starbrite from Rainbow Brite – so vain and conceited, but also funny and adorable.
BillMo read the Amazon Kindle edition of this selection.
Caveat: Esbe did not finish this selection.
This review is going to be approached a bit differently than I have in the past. This go around, I’m writing what I perceive as I go along, versus waiting until the end of the month and forgetting most of my salient points. Honestly, between the stay @ home order/work from home situation and two graduate-level classes on my plate, my memory is being stretched needlessly when I can get to the point of writing a review.
My second caveat on this book, I must read it like I’m pre-screening for my four-year-old nephew and not think of it in a completely adult way. Therefore, my approach will be more toward, “would I consider reading this to Joseph”. I will say, I did pass on the title to my 13-year old goddaughter who became immediately offended by the suggestion that she may want to read something of this nature. What could I expect, she reads at a 9th grade reading level and has since she was 11. So, that being said, this book is targeted toward 8-12 year olds, but since my nephew is a bit more mature than children his age, I’m considering this as a review based on whether I would read this to him.
Once I reached the tenth chapter, my impressions were: for the reading level, it is not too complicated and the writing does not push a child to further their reading acumen. It’s a comfort read for children who may be in the middle of the pack in their reading skills. I’m listening to Audible, but have found out that this book is interspersed with pictures. Completely appropriate for a child whose reading is not exactly up to par and may need a little visual stimulation. However, a child who is within the specified age range with a higher reading capability, this would be too simple for them, unless they are ok with a frivolous read (and sometimes, their stress is too high and maybe we should push them to be “kids” and read something appropriate for their age).
As for the story, it starts off a little slow and dare I say, annoyingly. I’m not charmed by the main character, first called “Girl”, who dubs herself Quicsilver. Am I sympathetic that she is in an orphanage at the start? Of course. Am I sympathetic that she has bullies? Absolutely. However, the case can be made that she is a bully in her own right? I believe so. However, I think the author means for to feel like she is the underdog, precocious and a rebel with a cause. But what I see is not so charming and not so precocious, but a brat, whether justified or not. I’m finding more enjoyment out of her canine companion. The introduced sidekick of a boy is as ridiculous as his introduction. Knife vs spatula. . . who should win this duel? However, the author makes her companion appear to be more inept and silly than anything. An apt sidekick? Not necessarily. Comic relief? Maybe to a child who has a simple sense of humor.
After the first ten chapters, I had to put the whole thing aside. But I made a second attempt: so, though I am listening to this on Audible I couldn’t bear to continue to listen to this drivel. OMG. I made it a whopping 10 minutes before I gave it up. By this point, the time travel, selfishness of the main characters, the whimsical desire to subjugate another to their will and lack of care or concern for others is an ode to millennials as it is and the asinine story line that ensues just annoyed me to no end. In fact, the only thing that made me semi-happy with this book is the fact that the bones of the hare monster was very punitive about poor behavior. But alas this story was too much for me to bear.
Narration Review†: The narrator did the best she could with this crap. Horrible, horrible, horrible content, but she tried to make it enjoyable.
Lady Esbe’s Favorite Character(s): The Bones of the Hare monster.
Lady Esbe listened to the HarperAudio edition of this selection, narrated by Billie Fulford Brown.
Caveat: Elle did not finish this selection.
I tried. I really did. But the synopsis doesn’t entirely prepare you for the “heroine” of this novel, who I can most succinctly describe as thoroughly unlikable. In fact, everyone is unlikable. And for those who aren’t unlikable from their first appearance, they eventually do or say something abhorrent which renders them, like everyone else… unlikable.
Initially, after the last few months of self-isolation and bad news everywhere, I blamed myself. “Maybe,” my dismayed internal voice whispered with trepidation, “maybe you’re just officially too old for children’s books. Maybe you’ve been adulting too long, and with all this crap going down, the world has finally worn on you and made you a jaded and bitter grown-up with no sense of imagination, no appreciation for whimsy. Maybe there are just too many years between you and this protagonist for you to really understand her or her plight or her motivations anymore.” So I put aside my Kindle for a while and resumed doing things I actually enjoy, like playing video games, watching Labyrinth for the bajillionth time, and finally starting The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
When I picked up Foxheart for another attempt, I realized the number of seasons I’ve roamed this gorgeous revolving rock are clearly not the problem here. The problem… is Quicksilver. The whiny, entitled, bratty little shit that is Quicksilver.
She is twelve. That’s about all that synopsis honestly prepares you for: Quicksilver is a twelve-year-old girl. Okay, well, she begins as a twelve-year-old girl. Sometimes she’s not, though. But most of the time, she is.
“… lives as a thief… faithful dog and partner and crime… the shy boy who lets her live in his attic…” is all a bit rich, though. Quicksilver isn’t really a thief – she says she is, but she’s a thief in the same way in which Vizzini was a mastermind: with 10% wishful thinking and 90% bluster and bolster. She isn’t some pitiful homeless waif living on rooftops in a bitter, endless winter with none but a dog and a meek boy to keep her company, either. No, she is an orphan who lives in a convent, but from Day One she cannot seem to get along with any of the other children and has clear issues with authority, absolutely zero respect for anyone else’s person or property, and a tendency to steal from people when she doesn’t get her way or thinks they are bullying her (more on this bullying in a mo’). Her companions are a comedy-relief sidekick dog sans comedy who she treats like something stuck to the bottom of her shoe and who occasionally stoops to her level to become just as nasty and mean-spirited as she is and a little boy who lacks the emotional, mental, or physical maturity to stand up to her or even to stand up for himself.
Bullying is a theme throughout this novel, and I believe – from what I read, anyway, which was only about 40% of the novel – that we’re supposed to come to the conclusion that Quicksilver is an unfortunate and innocent victim who will eventually rise up above all the haters to become something unexpected and good. As I’ve stated, I didn’t make it even halfway through this selection, so I’ve no idea if she ever turns it around, but of what I was able to read, the biggest bully I ran into was Quicksilver herself. From the moment she is brought to the convent (which, incidentally, saved her from the street-life we’re led to believe she’s been forced to endure during her childhood), she refuses to even attempt to engage with anyone else – she won’t even tell them her name, because she doesn’t think it’s any of their business. The rub is that she also won’t answer to any other name – not when the adults around her give up guessing and try to assign her one, nor when the children (who, because they are children, lack the understanding of lasting impacts or ramifications and can be cruel) give her a less than flattering nickname of their own devising.
But even then she won’t give them a name to work with, and the author treats this as a noble act. Her small, petty acts of vindictive revenge are also clearly supposed to be noble and perhaps mildly humorous, but instead they are just… small, petty acts of vindictive revenge perpetrated by a snotty little brat who believes herself a cut above all of those around her. When called by the nickname the other children gave to her – which is typical of the sorts of nicknames small children typically assign to one another when being petty, like “Poop-Head” or “Big-Nose” – she flips her lid and lashes out, pelting children with stolen produce, flinging tiles off the roof to the ground, etc. And when punished for being the horrid, entitled little bully that she is, she sulks and balks and plots revenge and eventually leaves them all to their fate and takes her lone brat show on the road. And not long after that, she breaks into someone’s home, finds the lone occupant to be a smaller and utterly defenseless child, and essentially plants her flag and proclaims herself queen bitch.
As one does. If one is a self-serving asshole.
Not long after that, things seem to take a turn for the better, when a mysterious (but not all that mysterious) adult appears on the scene. But it doesn’t last. This is a key plot point and may still have a flair of enigma for younger readers (I’d say under the age of 12 – or maybe under the age of 10 for the precocious), so I won’t give anything away here, but with the way everything before their appearance went down, this adult turns out to be everything you could expect – not long after their introduction, you are immediately shown that they have no qualms about sacrificing everything and everyone for their own means, even if it means sending their most beloved and loyal friend to their own lonely death.
Like almost everyone else in Foxheart, I too was a big ol’ meany-head who abandoned Quicksilver fairly early in her life. Maybe she and the story improved later. Maybe Fox realized he didn’t like who he’d become while he was with her, and Sly Boots gained enough self-confidence to push back against her incessant bullying, and they joined forces to overthrow her influence and talk her into looking outside of herself for a moment so she could actually experience some sort of real growth.
At any rate, with all the bad going on in the real world, if I had wanted to spend this isolation period with self-serving people who raise themselves up at the cost of everyone else around them, I’d just turn on the news and see what fresh hell our leaders have in store for us. But that’s not the case, so… I called Foxheart a bust. I gave it one tepid cup of tea (“did not like”) rather than no cups (“hated”) solely because the pace was quite good and the plot did seem to be heading somewhere… I just couldn’t personally bear the company any longer to get there. I probably won’t be reading anything else from this author unless it’s selected by one of the other Ladies as a monthly selection.
Elle Tea’s Favorite Character(s): If I had to pick someone, it’d be Fox, but even he was kinda… meh. From the beginning, his role as comic relief sidekick is pretty clear… but his comedy isn’t that great, he’s kind of nasty in his own right, and any relief he provides just isn’t enough to cancel out that absolutely horrid little girl.
Elle Tea read the Amazon Kindle edition of this selection.
† Narration “cup” scores do not count towards the overall average score of the selection itself.