The Kiesha’ra, Volume Five: Wyvernhail. By Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Delacorte Press. $14.99.
The Runestone Saga, Book Two: Vendetta. By Chris Humphries. Knopf. $15.99.
Fairy tales, at least those newly written for preteens and teenagers, sometimes shade over into the region of heroic fantasy, so it can be hard to tell where one genre ends and the other begins. It may also be irrelevant if the books are engaging and well written – as, for the most part, all of these are.
Wyvernhail lies somewhere between fairy tale and fantasy. The fifth and final volume of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ shapeshifter saga, The Kiesha’ra, it concludes the Capulets-and-Montagues story about the part-human, part-animal races known as the avian and serpiente. Following Hawksong, Snakecharm, Falcondance and Wolfcry, Wyvernhail focuses on Oliza Shardae Cobriana, who is trying to rule a united land of the feuding races even though their mutual hatred – as events in the book show – has scarcely been extinguished. Attempting to heal the problems of her own court, Oliza is kidnapped and taken into wolves’ territory to face a new set of challenges. “Oliza is more than my daughter,” her mother says at one point. “She is more than a princess; she is a symbol of a dream that took thousands of years to bring about…” But the fate of the shapeshifters rests not only with her but also with the outcast Hai, child of a falcon mother and cobra father. Followers of this series for ages 12 and up will find that the conclusion neatly knits its many strands together.
There are strands aplenty in The Runestone Saga as well, and it too is for ages 12 and above. In Chris Humphries’ first book of this series, Fetch, Sky learned how to use runes to travel back in time – then discovered that grandfather Sigurd, who taught him, has secret plans to use the runes for personal power. This is not exactly an original plot; nor is what happens in the saga’s second book, Vendetta, in which Sky knows he must learn from ancestors other than Sigurd so he can strengthen his psychic powers enough to be able to challenge his onetime teacher. This book’s title comes from Sky’s discovery of the power of the vendetta in his family, a discovery that ties into his decision to travel back in time to the 16th century and occupy the mind of Tza, a strong-willed and fierce girl. The interplay of history and mythology here can get a little confusing, but the blend of power hunger, ruthlessness and Norse lore is certainly a heady one. Fans of this book will be eager for the next, Possession.
A more straightforward historical novel for slightly younger readers, ages 10-12, Raleigh’s Page is set in the same time that Sky visits but in very different places. Eleven-year-old Andrew Saintleger, the central character, becomes the page of Sir Walter Raleigh after Andrew’s father sends him to