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Review: Brigitta of the White Forest (Danika Dinsmore)

Brigitta of the White Forest
Danika Dinsmore
Product Information:
Reading Level: Middle Grades
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: en theos press (March 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0975404296
Source: Book from the Author (Goodreads contest)

Brigitta of the White ForestBrigitta is a young Water Faerie from the village-nest of Tiragarrow. She s confused, moody, and anxious about going through The Change as she doesn t see how destiny markings on her wings should determine her life s path. A few days before the annual Festival of the Elements, Brigitta is flying an errand with Himalette, her tag-a-long sister, when a mysterious curse turns everyone in the White Forest to stone -- except for the two of them. The sisters have no idea why they were not cursed, but they do know if they don't turn everyone back in time for the festival rituals, the Hourglass of Protection will run out and so will its protective field around the forest. With no one in their forest left to help them, they must leave the protected realm to seek an exiled faerie they have only heard about in ancient tales. With assistance from a few allies they make along the journey, the girls find their way to Dead Mountain in search of the banished faerie. When they arrive, they find the help they are looking for, but soon discover that things are not what they seem. Running out of time, Brigitta and Himalette must use their wits to battle evil in order to lift the curse and save their forest.

Brigitta and her younger sister, Himalette, are the only two faeries in their entire village of White Forest that have not been affected by a mysterious curse. During the preparations for the annual festival, every living being in the White Forest is turned to stone. Brigitta suddenly finds herself faced with a great challenge. She doesn’t know how to reverse the curse—or where to go for help—but she knows she must do something before the magical protection around her village is destroyed. With a great responsibility weighing on them, Brigitta and Himalette start their journey to Dead Mountain, where they hope to find help from the banished faerie, Hrathgar.

Along the way to Dead Mountain, Briggita and her sister encounter many dangers and make new friends. Together, Brigitta, Himalette, and Minq (a character that seems to resemble Jar Jar Binx from StarWars) head off to Dead Mountain. When they get there, they meet Hrathgar. Brigitta and Himalette are mesmerized by her kindness and can’t seem to understand why she has always been described as evil in the stories of faerie lore. Minq is not so easily impressed by Hrathgar’s innocent appearance. Through several twists and turns of events, the young faeries quickly learn that everything is not what it appears to be. Hrathgar is actually two separate people! Hrathgar Good (the faerie they first meet) and Hrathgar Evil (the faerie from the stories) are split personalities that share the curse from ancient times. Brigitta and her friends find themselves faced with an even more difficult challenge: they have to end the curse on their village and defeat Hrathgar Evil. But they aren’t sure if they are capable of destroying such a powerful faerie all by themselves.

I must start off saying that this book was great! Overall, it’s a great story about discovering your destiny and courage. Brigitta is brave, even though she doesn’t realize it. She’s determined to make things right in her village, so she sets off on what seems to be an impossible task. After everything is resolved, she is shocked to find that her destiny markings have finally revealed themselves. While she’s trying to understand the great change that she will face, she has a pretty deep conversation with Ondelle, the High Priestess of the faeries, about destiny. Ondelle shares some words of wisdom with Brigitta when she tells her “to allow all destinies to unfold as they should.” Brigitta tries to let this set in, but it’s still a hard concept for such a young faerie.

If you look at the book from a literary stand point--which I would be inclined to do with my students-- you can see several similarities to the classic struggles of good against evil in literature. There are evil villains with dubious plots and young heroes that have to discover their inner strengths and final destinies. Young Brigitta begins the story as a faerie that doesn’t fit in or understand her place in the faerie society. By the end of the book, she has an idea of what her future holds, even though she doesn’t think she can fulfill the high expectations. I couldn’t help but think of The Lord of the Rings as I read through this book, which isn’t a bad thing, considering I liked those books as well.

The plot is fast paced and starts quickly. You are sucked in to the story within the first two chapters. I was very thankful that it did not take long to develop the plot, and that the plot moved quickly throughout the book. The names were highly original, but I also found them a mouth full. If I had to read this book aloud, I might have some difficulty pronouncing all the names and places. Of course, that is a minor detail that doesn’t interfere with the story at all. My favorite aspect of the entire book is the great detail that went into describing the setting and characters. The touchy relationship between Brigitta and Himalette was very believable. I could picture the looks of irritation on Brigitta’s face as her younger sister sang her invented nonsense songs. The characters were very well developed and enjoyable, and I enjoyed them all.

I would say that this book is intended for the younger readers (10-12 year olds) that enjoy E.D. Baker’s books. It might seem a bit childish for the traditional YA reader. Brigitta is just reaching the point of “The Change,” so she isn’t as mature (in some aspects) as some of the more well known characters in YA literature. Brigitta of the White Forest is a clean, fast paced adventure that I would certainly recommend to any reader that enjoys stories about faeries and a good light-hearted read.

For those interested, the second book in the series is set to come out in the spring of 2012. I personally can’t wait to see how Brigitta matures in this story, and to find out if some of the lingering mysteries from the first novel are solved.



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