A Gem of a Middle Grade Fantasy Series!
The Unready Queen
by William Ritter
Series: The Oddmire (Book 2)
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
William Ritter’s Website
★ “The Oddmire series’ memorable, inspiring characters are full of heart and, combined with the enchanting magic surrounding them, form the strong core of a burgeoning fantasy classic.”—Booklist, starred review
★ “In another brilliantly written visit to Oddmire, Ritter returns to an already magical place filled with danger and intrigue, and adds a new chapter to an outstanding series… Those who loved book one will adore book two. A wonderful addition to the series and to young fantasy collections.”—School Library Journal, starred review
About the Author
William Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark. The Oddmire is Ritter’s first series for middle-grade readers. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Jackaby series for young adult readers.
Human-raised brothers Tinn and Cole join forces with Fable, daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, to stop the fighting between the people of Endsborough and the creatures of the Wild Wood before violence turns into all-out war.
Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.
But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.
In this second book in the Oddmire series, the New York Times bestselling author of Jackaby takes readers on an adventure full of monsters, mayhem, and magic.
“You need to feel the roots beneath you and come to know where you stand.”
“I know where I’m standing. I’m standing in the middle of your vine circle for the millionth time practicing the same spells as always, even though they never work.”
William Ritter’s second installment in The Oddmire series, The Unready Queen, brings readers back into the Wild Wood. Book one, Changeling, was centered around twin brothers Cole and Tinn Burton (one of whom is a goblin changeling who was left behind alongside the human child in a bungled goblin/fairy attempt at a baby switch), and Fable, a secondary character they met in the Wood. This time it’s Fable’s turn to take center stage, and the part–human, part-fairy child is having trouble learning and controlling her magic. Fun-loving Fable is being schooled by her mother, the Queen of the Deep Dark, but Fable’s more interested in having adventures with her friends than being disciplined about practicing her magic.
Outside of the Wild Wood, Tinn and Cole, who formerly believed themselves identical twins, are having growing pains as each navigates his individual identity. The goblin brother is learning about his goblin heritage and having difficulty controlling his magic. His human counterpart deals with a feeling of envy at his brother’s having a goblin father-figure in his life — the twins’ father left their mother soon after the second baby was discovered.
After a funny experience when Fable visits the brothers at school, things become serious as the three get embroiled in an escalating conflict between humans and the creatures of the Wild Wood.
Fable’s story can be enjoyed without first having read book one, but because this is a return to a world and characters previously experienced in that book, I would recommend starting with Changeling. Fable is a lovable character — plucky, funny, and unpredictable. Indeed, all of the characters who live within these pages are endearing. You’ll love spending time with them and sharing their adventures.
William Ritter uses his knowledge of folklore to shape and inform his own modern fantasy, which boasts a strong narrative voice (these books would be great read out loud), quick pacing, and the right balance of spooky/scary/creepy and light-hearted/charming/comedic. Thematically, The Oddmire series explores love and the bonds of family (both inherited and found or chosen), friendship, identity, and coming-of-age. There is also an exploration of the nature of humans and creatures of the wild as being more complex and multifaceted than a simplistic humans-are-good-goblins-and-magical-creatures-are-bad dichotomy. Individual uniqueness, even “otherness” is celebrated, and the dangers inherent in prejudice and racism are addressed. Strong family units with capable, loving, determined single mothers are compassionately portrayed.
Like any good fairy tale, William Ritter’s stories will transport readers to a world that, though it looks very similar to their own, is teeming with magic and mystery. These tales are sure to captivate young readers who appreciate suspense and don’t mind being a bit scared, but who more than anything want to get lost in a story and a world filled with enchantment and wonder. And the next time they take a hike through the woods, they will likely wonder what kind of creatures might be lurking!
— Dawn Teresa
5 of 5 Hearts: A gem of a middle grade fantasy series!
Buy the Book
Changeling, the first book in The Oddmire series
Map of the Wild Wood
Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with a copy of The Unready Queen.