In Ysabeau S. Wilce's exciting debut novel, Flora's mom is away, leaving Flora and her father home alone at Crackpot Hall with its 11,000 constantly shifting rooms. Late for school one day, Flora decides to take the elevator down to the first floor. But without her mother around, the elevator has ideas of its own and drops Flora in an unfamiliar room. Lost in her own house, Flora embarks on a harrowing quest to find her way back to where she started.
©2007 Ysabeua S. Wilce; (P)2007 Recorded Books
"Wilce creates a world so complex and delightful and a character so appealing that readers are bound to be clamoring for this heroine's further adventures." (VOYA)
"A thoroughly original magical world marks this witty debut." (Kirkus Reviews)
I expected a book about a girl living in a big magical house with magical servants, wandering through charmed rooms - but the story is much more complicated, interesting and unique than that. The story has dark streaks (alcoholic/neglectful parents, addiction and hunger)embedded in a lush story that frequently brought forth the idea of jungle for me. There is, of course, magic of the conventional, spell-casting kind, but the story itself is a sort of magic. The only reason this gets 4 instead of 5 stars is that it all ties together a bit tidily for me - but it is, after all, a children's book.
When your house has 11,000 rooms it seems utterly unfair that you are sleeping in a broom closet. Even a very nice, cozy broom closet. However, with the butler banished Flora's house is not in the best of shape. The potty disappears sometimes, the front door won't open, and the elevator once kidnapped her father for a week. Nevertheless, when she is running late to return a library book she dares the elevator. The elevator kidnapps her too and takes her to the library where she meets the banished butler. Before she knows it she is forging signatures, planning daring rescues, and sneaking into abandoned houses to steal words of power. She has a limited amount of time to rescue herself and her butler all before her mother gets home. And in the middle of all of this she has to get a dress made and invitations sent out for her birtday party!
I really really wish the second installment, Flora's Dare, had been put out on audio!
It's a fantasy YA novel different from any other I've read.
Despite its delightful whimsy, it deals with some very harsh issues.
Flora Secunda is the daughter of a great general (her mother )who is a workaholic and absent most of the time, and a war hero (her father) so debilitated by his prisoner of war internment he has retreated into drinking and madness. The last of a crumbling, great lineage and certainly not the best, 14 year old Flora has been left trying to maintain the family and take on the responsibilities of the adults who aren't there for her.
Obviously, she gets into trouble. And what wonderful trouble it is. Flora has ideas of her own about what she wants for her life. She doesn't want to be a solider like all the family before her, she wants magic and adventure like her ranger heroine Minimo.
Flora, her best friend (fashionably dressed partner in crime) Udo, and her red dog manage to find all the magic and adventure they can handle.
Absolutely recommended for any age.
I liked the idea of the story, but it was rather slow and the world building was lacking for a fantasy story. My big problem, though, was the reader. Her narrative voice was too
The book wasn't what we expected (I thought a self-harming father was a bit strong for a childrens book), but we ended up really enjoying this story. Flora and her family grow on you, and the story is never predictable.
Hoping to see the sequel on Audible soon.
I thought this was a very charming tale set in an interesting and unique new world. The story is told in a light-hearted and humorous way, but Flora is dealing with way too much responsibility for even a resourceful 14 year old to cope with. This darkness, fear, and frustration adds depth to the characters and gives what might have been just a frothy fantasy some teeth.
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