[Book Review] The Charm Bracelet (Fairy Realm, #1) by Emily Rodda

Enter the Realm of magic....

When Jessie visits her grandmother at beautiful Blue Moon, she discovers an amazing secret, and enters the Realm for the first time.

Fairies, elves, tiny horses, and all kinds of magical beings live in the Realm. A noble Queen in a great golden palace rules them all. A high hedge keeps out dangerous creatures.

But the Realm is in terrible danger. Jessie must outwit an evil enemy and save the land before it is destroyed forever.

If you're familiar with Emily Rodda, it's probably because of her popular Deltora Quest series, its sequel trilogy, its sequel quartet, and its anime adaptation. I've been a fan of Deltora Quest since elementary school, and I still occasionally reread the series; I have also, however, read Rodda's Rowan of Rin series and Fairy Realm series.

While Deltora Quest is a more traditionally "masculine" fantasy series, with its monster-fighting male protagonist and fiesty female love interest, Fairy Realms is a more traditionally "feminine" fantasy series, with its young female protagonist rescuing fairies from evil queens and trolls and whatnot. (I believe Rowan of Rin was more of a blend, but it's been far too many years since I've read it to be sure.) But both benefit from Emily Rodda's wonderful creativity; I highly recommend sampling each series with your son or daughter. Because while I definitely prefer Deltora Quest, I'm fairly positive that Fairy Realms also had a large influence on my own creativity. (To make a long story short, there's one recurring setting in my dreams that I've realized upon rereading The Charm Bracelet was likely heavily influenced by the series. Or at least its wonderful artwork.)

In The Charm Bracelet, Rodda introduces her readers to two new worlds--that of Blue Moon, the home of Jessie's grandmother, and that of the Realm, the home of the fairies, mermaids, and other fantasy creatures. And when Jessie is accidentally pulled into the Realm, she finds herself tangled up in a usurper's plot.

It's an interesting story for several different reasons. While it plays on the typical fantasy elements--a realm of fairies, a sorceress who wants to steal the throne, an impending war between the "good" fantasy creatures and the "evil" ones, etcetera, etcetera--it also makes use of some more creative ideas. First and foremost, Jessie is not and does not become any sort of "chosen one"; even after her secret ancestry is revealed, she is still just a human girl. And while the plot hinges on her actions, she still plays a supporting role to the adult characters; she saves the day by helping her family, not by confronting mortal danger on her own. Even her supporting characters are a bit outside the box: a meek male elf with some acting skills up his sleeve, an unmarried palace nursemaid brave enough to stand up to her former charges, and a talking miniature horse.

It's definitely not my favorite children's fantasy series, but I look forward to revisiting the rest of the series to see how Rodda continues to craft her world. If it's anything compared to the magic of Deltora Quest, I've been remiss in not rereading it earlier.

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