Spotlight on: Marianne Curley

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Marianne Curley

Books: Old Magic, The Named, The Dark, The Key

Genre: Fantasy, Teen Romance, Magic and Time Travel

You'll love these books if you like... Libba Bray, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Gail Carson Levine, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Stephenie Meyer, Cinda Williams Chima, JK Rowling & Michael Scott

Author originates from: Australia

About two years ago, during my hopeless Harry Potter obsession, I searched desperately for a series to hold me over until Deathly Hallows as published. I would literally spend hours at Barnes and Noble scanning shelves, reading covers and skimming through the first few pages of each book my hands landed on. It is my firm belief that if the first three chapters of a novel cannot engage you, you should probably put it back on the shelf. That was not the case with Old Magic by Marianne Curley. Instantly, I was hooked. I went back to the shelf and searched for her other works. Thankfully, she had published three other titles: The Named, The Dark and The Key. Needless to say, I bought all four on the same day.

Marianne Curley has a fresh voice and style. Setting her novels in small towns throughout Australia, Curley does a good job of playing with her locations. Describing the environment elegantly, Curley leaves her readers feeling as if they are in the middle of a rain forest (or sometimes England during the Middle Ages). Her writing is as organic and free flowing as the magic she writes about.
Moreover, Curley seamlessly interweaves the past with the present while engaging her characters in magic that not only displays their potential gifts, but also their humanity. The books, written in alternating perspectives, captivate her audience early on. Below are the descriptions of the books.

Old Magic: "When Jarrod Thornton walks into the classroom, Kate Warren instantly senses that he is as different as she is. In anger, he unknowingly unleashes a storm in the science lab and Kate realizes that he has exceptional paranormal abilities that exceed her own. As an uneasy friendship forms, she helps Jarrod confront and internalize his talents. With her grandmother's help, the teens journey back to the Middle Ages and break the curse that has controlled the Thornton family for generations." - School Library Journal

The Named: "At the edge of a national forest, where two worlds co-exist, 16-year-old Ethan Roberts guards time or, more specifically, history ("My job is to make sure it all happens the way it's supposed to, the way it already did"). As one of the Named, a Guardian of Time, he has been doing this since age four, not long after his 10-year-old sister, Sera, was killed. Her murderer, an evil half-faced monster, Marduke, is an Order of Chaos minion who wishes to alter the past in order to change the future-and to avenge his own losses. As the novel opens, Ethan is given an Apprentice to train, 15-year-old Isabel Becket, younger sister of his ex-best friend. With the help of Arkarian, a 600-year-old Guardian who lives deep inside the mountain, Isabel quickly takes to the apprenticeship, and her power to heal strengthens. But the forces of good and evil are headed for a Final Conflict foreseen by the Prophecy found in Veridian, the ancient city hidden deep under Angel Falls. No machine is required for time travel here; a strange "sleep" is the conduit between worlds past and present. Told in convincing alternating chapters by Isabel and Ethan, the novel reveals a mystery, the clues to which unfold via the duo's trip back in time to John of Gaunt (during the reign of Richard II) and details of Sera's death. Readers will likely be swept up by the ever-growing complications and want to return for the series' next installments." - Publisher's Weekly

The Dark: "Ethan and Isabel, heroes from The Named, are on a more exciting journey than ever and are joined by Isabel's brother Matt, who is still getting accustomed to life in the Guard. Arkarian, their ageless mentor, has been kidnapped and sent by the Goddess of Chaos to a frighteningly dark underworld. His friends have been forbidden to rescue him, but and ever-increasing connection to Arkarian drives Isabel to convince Ethan and Matt that they must risk everything to find him, despite the consequences Each of the characters must face the demons of their inner-self and draw upon what they find in their hearts in order to succeed. Told from the perspective of both Isabel and Arkarian, this sequel stands on its own as a testament to the power of friendship and the strength of love." - Amazon Review

The Key: "The Guardians of Time Trilogy concludes with members of the Named--young adults with extraordinary gifts--facing an epic showdown of good and evil, with humanity's future at stake. The Order of Chaos, led by power-monger Lathenia and her cohort Marduke, seems stronger than ever, commanding meteors, rats, and armies of the undead, while attempting to change history's course via time traveling. As the Named's members complete initiations into the Guardians, there's another snafu: it seems one of them is a traitor. The group battles foes and issues of trust and time, as an ancient prophecy nears realization. Matt and Rochelle's alternating, present-tense first-person narratives add suspense to an engrossing, if not dense, read, driven by detailed descriptions of a dizzying array of magic devices, events, time periods, and settings." - Booklist

I throughly enjoy her books, although admittedly her best writing is in the Guardians of Time trilogy. If you'd like more information on this writer, please visit her website.