Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Review: Septimus Heap book 6, Darke

In Darke, the recently-published 6th book in the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage, fans will find the action and characters that they have enjoyed in this series all along.  (See previous posts on Septimus Heap, or here's the quick summary: a Harry Potter knock-off that works, good for tween readers and up, no troubling YA or dark fantasy elements).  In this volume, the conflict is caused by a foolish young man who has essentially sold himself to the forces of darkenesse, and who establishes a Darke Domaine that grows outward from the palace, threatening to overwhelm the entire city and even the Wizards' Tower.  Septimus Heap, meanwhile, is preoccupied by his upcoming apprenticeship test, in which he must encounter the Darke without being lost in it.  Unfortunately the wise old ghost of Alther Mella has been banished and is not available to help him.  Marcia Overstrand the Extraordinary Wizard is irritable and preoccupied with her own concerns, Marcellus Pye the ancient alchemist is at odds with Marcia, and Princess Jenna has quite a bit of trouble escaping the Port Witch coven.

Most of the book describes the events of one night; no fear of it being slow-moving.  I asked my 8-year-old daughter, who raced me through the book, if it was too scary and she said it wasn't scary, it was "creepy."  That about sums it up.  Coming of age is a significant theme in the book: Jenna and Septimus have their 14th birthday: she comes closer to accepting her grown-up role of Queen, he has to prove his worthiness against the Darke before he can become Extraordinary Wizard.  No major new characters are introduced in this book, but Beetle's character is also nicely developed.  Another recurring theme is family reunions after long estrangements.  In several instances we see prodigals returning home, or long-alienated siblings, parents, and children reunited.  It's realistic, with mention of the character defects that caused the falling out in the first place, but still a positive model to give children.  Without giving too much away, the author is not one of those who enjoys killing off characters; there is resolution, if not a completely happy ending, for almost all characters.  The whole series has, obviously, an obsession with the number 7: I'm willing to guess here that the next book will be the last, and that its title will probably be Fyre.


Yesterday's progress in the Tour de Fleece: I had help from Smudge, when he wasn't chasing off a squirrel.  My first attempt at a photo collage, and it's going to need work.  Today I'm starting the 5.1 ounce braid from Crazy Hat Lady, merino wool in a colorway called "goblin girl."

I finished Tertia's capris and she wore them today.  I have another pair to do, but I plan to use some of the cut-off embroideries to make pockets, so it will be a little more time-consuming.
An amusing incident with Quarta's flip-flops yesterday: frustrated by the disappearing red stripes, she colored them back in with a red marker - which wasn't permanent.  Instead of being caught red-handed, she was red-footed.  The above photo shows the results of a soapy foot-bath... just a little pink residue.

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